Jensen woke up when he felt Kris pushing at his shoulder. He lay still as Kris clambered over him and headed for the shower. Muttering curses under his breath at the guy who kept waking up before the fucking worms, he rolled off the edge of the bed, cursing again when he stubbed his toe while trying to pull his pants on.
He patted Allison’s hip gently, trying to get her to roll over while avoiding her tendency to strike out with her fists if woken too early. She was not a morning person. He heard the shower going and stumbled to the kitchen, praying that their cantankerous coffee maker had deigned to produce coffee this morning. It had.
Breathing groans of relief, he inhaled the first cup and sipped at the second while rooting through the morning news mail. His personal mail beeped and he opened it. HQ had sent through a notice that they could expect two new team members that morning.
Jensen sighed to himself as he contemplated breaking in two newbies. This wasn’t what they needed right now. After the last case had turned out so disastrously, they needed serious downtime. Looked as though that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Kris strolled into the kitchen and Jensen watched him move. It was a pleasure he didn’t ignore and one he never failed to appreciate, despite working with him for over a year now. Kris walked with slow strides, tiny, compact body rippling muscles.
“Mind out of the gutter, Jen,” Kris told him, his voice still rough with sleep, at odds with the sharp words, dragged Jensen’s eyes from Kris’ hips to his dark brown gaze.
“Sorry.” Although Kris claimed that Jensen’s head was as thick as a wall, sometimes he’d admitted that a stray thought escaped and he could read Jensen as clearly as the rest of humanity. Jensen wasn’t actually sorry for ogling; he was merely sorry he got caught at it. “You’re pretty to look at first thing in the morning, Kris.”
Kris’ lazy grin told him he knew that. “You’re a shallow, shallow man, Ackles,” he said.
Jen grinned. “A simple man,” he corrected, “with simple tastes.”
“And a simple mind,” Kris retorted and skipped out of the way of Jensen’s swatting hand. “Good thing you can trade on your looks then.”
Jensen flipped him off with a casual finger and Kris responded in kind. “We need food,” Kris said and looked into one of the kitchen cupboards hopefully.
“Alli was supposed to do the shopping,” Jen said and scowled. “I bet she was too busy playing that stupid ‘God War’ and forgot.”
Kris sighed and dropped his head against the counter. “I need to feed,” he whined.
“Drink some coffee,” Jensen told him, “that should fill the empty spaces.”
Kris glared at him. “I need solid food, not a liquid diet,” but he sipped at the cup of coffee Jensen had placed in front of him anyway.
Jensen grinned at his pouting face and prodded at his PDA. “The mage and his companion arrive today apparently.”
Kris nodded and sank into a chair. “I know. I can hear them already.”
Jensen frowned. “What?”
Kris lifted his eyes and pinned him, chocolate brown leeched to silver; a sign of Kris’ tuning in to the emotional vibrations around him. “They’re here.”
The door chimed as he finished speaking and Jensen gave the command for it to open. Allison staggered out of their bedroom just as the door slid open and admitted two men.
Jensen instantly realised that he was in the presence of power when they strode in. Kris had not followed him into the lounge area, as always, preferring to read the newcomers without their knowledge.
The big man with shaggy sandy brown hair and hazel eyes held out his hand. “I’m guessing you’re Jensen. I’m Jared but most people call me Jay.”
He spoke with an accent that reminded Jensen of Texarcana, his birth home. Jensen nodded and felt a strange warmth when their hands met .They stared at one another for a moment, silently assessing what was happening.
Jensen eventually pulled away from Jared and introduced Allison. “This is our healer, Allison.”
Allison waved a hand from her position in the kitchen doorway and called a greeting. “Apologies for the lack of manners, but I have yet to shower and you really don’t want to be downwind of me just yet.” The grin that accompanied the statement was crooked and wicked. “Plus, morning breath!”
Jared nodded and turned to his silent companion. “This is Adam.” The second man was about as tall as Jensen; just over six foot and shadow dark in blue robes that swirled around his body as though moving beneath a soft breeze.
Jensen offered his hand. “You must be our new mage.” Adam’s slender fingers wrapped around his and Jensen felt as though he had been shocked by lightning. Jen yanked his fingers away quickly. He’d forgotten that mages imprinted by touch.
“I am, yes, and Jared is my bodyguard and your new combat expert.” Adam looked like no mage Jensen had ever seen. His eyes were lined, peacock colours in streaks through his hair and wore rings on every finger.
Jensen grinned easily though and offered an introduction to Allison as well. Allison pushed away from her spot in the doorway, strolling towards them. Adam took her hand and she stiffened for a moment as the imprint shocked through her as well.
Jen waited for her to object but she said nothing to Adam, just nodded when she pulled away carefully.
Adam looked toward the kitchen and asked, “Is your seer always so shy to meet people?” His tone was dry and gave nothing away.
Jensen choked back a laugh. “Mage, one thing I can definitely say about Kris; he isn’t shy.”
Adam continued staring intently at the kitchen doorway until a yell heralded Kris’ arrival. Jensen was astounded to see their normally unflappable seer storm out of the kitchen, face flushed and eyes flashing.
“Just who the hell do you think you are? Get out of my mind!” Kris was furious.
Adam raised a dark brow. Jensen thought privately that he needed to learn that particular expression of disdain. It was awesome. “Then please do me the courtesy of getting out of mine.” Adam’s voice was even more arctic.
Kris scowled at Adam and Jensen watched in fascination as he blushed even harder. “It’s my job.” His mutter was almost under his breath.
Adam merely smiled a little and then looked back at Jensen. “Please call me Adam. I hate titles.” His smile stretched, soft and sweet across his mouth, and Jensen thought that it changed his face completely.
Suddenly almost young and approachable, Adam suggested, “How about I give you a little background information on Jared and me?”
Allison brought mugs of coffee for their new members and they all moved to the recon room at the back of the house. Jensen watched Adam and Jared look at the room and then each other, communicating in a wordless way that hinted at a close bond. Jared wandered around, poking curiously at box files and papers, and eventually looked at Jensen. “Tell you the truth, I’m only here because of Adam. I’ve heard some shit about you and your team.”
His blunt statement made Jensen look at him carefully. His eyes were guileless and open. He motioned for Jared and Adam to join them at the conference table in the middle of the room. “Nobody ever wants to be assigned to LG99.”
Jared shrugged broad shoulders as he sat down next to Adam. “Whatever, doesn’t really matter. Joining you was Adam’s idea. As his guard, I go where he goes.”
Jensen looked between Adam and Jared. “You’ve heard about what went down last month?” he asked.
Adam nodded slightly. “We know that you lost one of your own,” he said and Allison flinched.
Jen scrubbed a hand across his face. “Yeah,” he said, “we don’t usually get involved with the actual apprehending of the criminals, but Aaron wouldn’t listen.”
Allison bit her lip. “He wanted to be there when they caught that bastard,” she said and her voice was heavy with sorrow. “He was so eager to help, he wanted to be a real cop.” Her laugh was bitter and Kris grabbed her hand.
“Aaron was our newest member, he was a fifth generation telekinetic and we’d managed to find this con artist by tracing his energy signature at each of the crime scenes.” Kris looked at Adam and Jared. “Having Aaron around was being around a giant puppy.”
Jensen cleared his throat. “He was only supposed to be with us for a month until he’d been properly trained, he was on the fast track.”
Allison took up the narrative again. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jen ordered him not to go but he thought he was invincible.”
Kris’ eyes were bleak. “The conman took Aaron and four other cops with him. They didn’t realise that he was rigged with a failsafe if he got caught.”
Allison whispered, “ka-boom.” And Jen saw Adam and Jared twitch as though she’d screamed.
“I’m sorry,” Adam’s voice was soft and Jensen felt something soothing stroke over his skin. “I can assure you that neither Jared nor I are reckless and we will never willingly put any of you in danger.”
Allison piped up then, desperate to change the subject. “Maybe you can clear something up for us. We’ve never been allowed to work with your lines before. What is the deal with the mages and warriors? Why can you only work together and not separately?”
Jared looked at Adam who nodded at his silent question. “You’re gonna have to understand the relationship sooner or later. We’ve never been the sort to hide what we are.”
Jared leaned back and took a sip of his coffee. “Mages are the strongest of the new genetic lines right, but they have one major weakness. When they are spelling or travelling on the light, they are vulnerable to attack. So they need someone to watch their backs. Here is where the Warrior line comes in.” He paused, indicating himself.
“We are physically strong but not on a mental, psychic or magical par with any of the other lines. Since the government views the mage as the elite, they want them protected at all costs. So they have bred the warriors to be in a kind of symbiosis with the mages. They protect us with their power and we protect them with our bodies. All works out in the wash.” He stopped and flashed a glance at Adam.
Kris frowned at him and said, “You’re not telling us everything, Jared.”
Jared glared at him. “It isn’t polite to pry where you’re not invited, Seer.”
Kris’ lips thinned. “As I said to your mage, it’s my job. Now tell the whole truth please.” Jensen tried not to roll his eyes. Some days he wondered who the actual team leader was. Kris and Allison were hard-headed and strong-willed. He’d learned to walk a careful tightrope in keeping them in line.
Jared looked at Adam again and hesitated. It was Adam who replied. “Allow me to answer that.”
Adam looked at Kris, face solemn. “What I tell you now must never leave this unit.” He waited until they had all nodded their agreement and then continued. “The mage line has not been successfully reproduced. It seems as though mine was the last generation of true mages. The government is desperate to preserve the last line. The warrior line also provides life to the current mage line. Psychic life.”
Kris looked as though he wanted to vomit. “You’re a parasite!”
Adam’s face was steel-hard as he looked at Kris. “We all do what we must to survive.”
Jared leaned his elbows on the table. “It’s no big deal, seer. We are bred for this purpose.”
Allison, the healer among them, was also looking faintly nauseous as she exclaimed, “You’re basically psychic fodder for the mages!”
Jared shrugged and replied. “Like I said, it’s our purpose. Don’t know how to do much except fight and feed.”
Jensen shook his head at his healer, who seemed about to explode. “I guess that’s your business, as long as you are not a liability to the unit.”
Jared grinned, face lighting up. “Wouldn’t be bragging to say that ain’t gonna happen. Just as Adam here is the strongest of the last mage line, I am the strongest of the current warrior line. They pair us according to strength.”
Adam spoke again, soft as silk. “Will the feeding be an issue with the unit?”
Jensen looked at the mage. “Nope. As long as you do the job, both of you.”
Adam nodded and his eyes met those of the seer again. “Will this be a problem for you, Kris?”
Kris glared, obviously unsettled. “I will deal with it, Mage, but it is barbaric and you know it!”
Adam sighed suddenly. “You think I don’t know that, seer? It is abhorrent to my mind, but the doctors have implanted a physical as well as psychological imperative that forces me to feed, even though I hate it. Please do not judge me for something I cannot control.”
Kris nodded reluctantly as he tried to read the truth in his mind. For the moment that he touched Adam’s mind, he was bathed in fire and screamed.
Jensen and Allison rushed to his side, each grabbing on to one of his arms as he crumpled.
“What the hell is going on here?” Jared’s demand was drowned out by another scream from Kris, who sagged in their arms and passed out.
An hour later, Kris regained consciousness. He hadn’t responded to any of the healing that Allison had tried and his team mates were frantic. Finally, Adam pushed her away and took Kris’ hand in his. They were the only two who had not yet imprinted and the jolt that arched Kris’ body up and blew his eyes open took them all by surprise.
Kris sat up, gasping and chest heaving and Jensen yelled at Adam until he almost lost his voice, but the mage seemed immune to his new commander’s rage.
Kris felt blistered and burnt and violated. Sitting up, he looked at Adam, anger turning his eyes to molten fire. “What did you do to me?”
Adam shrugged broad shoulders and replied, “Remember that uncontrollable imperative that I mentioned?”
At Kris’ wary nod he continued. “Touching my mind the way you did is like an invitation that triggers the urge to feed. I can’t stop it.”
Jensen was still sitting on the bed next to Kris and he looked down at his pale face. “Okay Ice, I guess that means Adam’s mind is off limits for you from now on.”
Kris nodded agreement and then asked Adam, “So what did you take from me when I touched you?”
Adam’s eyes were clouded as he replied, “Not much, you pulled away pretty quickly. The feed is of energy, life, so it takes what it touches.”
Allison helped Kris to sit upright against the pillows and asked, “Is he going to be okay?”
Adam nodded, face still. “I told you, I didn’t take much; he’ll be fine in a while. Just keep him quiet.”
Jared spoke up. “It takes a lot to kill a human, Allison. A mage normally feeds off a warrior for years. So no need to worry, friend.” This blithe statement was greeted with horrified silence.
Kris stared up at Adam’s impassive face. “How long has Jared been with you?”
The warrior offered the answer. “Actually, I’ve only been with Adam for a year or so. I’m his fifth warrior since…”
His voice trailed off when Adam touched his arm. “I think that is enough for now, Jared. Let them digest this new information about our kind and perhaps we can give them a little more when they have accepted us into their team as full-fledged teammates.”
Kris went for the heart of the matter and asked “So exactly how old are you?” Adam’s eyes went opaque as he gazed down at the seer.
It seemed that he wasn’t going to answer when he suddenly replied, “On my next birthday, I will be 310 years old. Satisfied?”
Eyes wide, Jensen asked Adam to repeat himself. He did and Jensen found himself adjusting all his preconceived ideas. “Yowsa, now that’s something to boggle the mind.”
Jared tried to defuse the tension. “Jensen, I heard you call your seer, Ice. Where is that name from?”
Jensen dragged his gaze away from Adam reluctantly and a small grin crossed his mouth, “Allison and I had a bit of a problem with the boring that is his name. We liked ‘Ice’.”
Allison smiled fondly down at Kris. “He usually answers to Ice now. Training a seer is a full time job.”
She clutched at her head suddenly. “Ow! C’mon, Ice, I was kidding!” She narrowed her eyes at Kris who was watching her with eyes only slightly tinged with silver.
The curve of Kris’ mouth was a little smug. “Don’t start something you can’t finish, babe.” He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.
“Careful!” Adam growled his warning as Kris stood up and his legs turned to noodles. Adam was in motion before any of the others even realised he was falling and caught him.
Kris shoved him away, eyes dark with shock. “Don’t touch me, Mage. It hurts.”
Adam raised his hands and stepped away from him. “My apologies, I thought that you might injure yourself.” His voice was bland and emotionless and Jen wondered just how much was going on underneath that calm exterior.
Allison had moved to Kris’ side and was helping him stand slowly. Jensen watched everything, his mind whirling.
He motioned to Jared, who followed him out to the kitchen. “We are never going to be able to work together unless we get Adam and Kris to trust each other.”
Jared nodded. “Yup, the big guy wants to be part of this unit and he made some really impressive deals to get here. He isn’t going to let a seer stop him. I would suggest that you have a private little chat with your Kris and strongly urge that he sucks it up.”
Jensen snorted a laugh. “If you had any idea of just how unlikely that is, then …” They sat in silence for a while, scheming.
“Maybe we can lock them up in a room for a few days and let them fight it out?” Jared’s suggestion was hopeful.
Jensen chuckled again. “Your mage will probably suck the life right out of him!”
Jared cracked up at that. “Man, Adam has no sense of humour when it comes to the energy feed. Don’t let him hear you joking about it!”
“Yes, don’t.” The hissed comment came from somewhere behind Jensen who yelped and jumped about a foot in the air.
“Ya gotta not do that, man!” Jared was shaking with laughter as Jensen tried to get his temper under control. Adam just looked at him emotionlessly.
Jensen pointed a finger at Adam. “We are going to have to set a few ground rules here, primarily for the benefit of the more emotionally challenged of the group.”
By this time, they had been joined by Kris, helped along by Allison. “Right. Rule One.” He held up a hand when Kris opened his mouth. “Rule One: What I say goes. You can question, suggest or beg, but the final decision about this unit will be mine. I don’t care how much power any one of you has.”
He met each person’s gaze solidly and was met with silence. “Okay. Rule Two: No feeding of energy in front of the healer or the seer. Adam, afraid this really only applies to you, so moving forward.” Adam’s nostrils flared a little but he held his tongue.
Jensen watched Jared’s eyes slide over to look at the mage and tried not to laugh when he saw Jared’s shoulders shaking.
Adam’s narrowed gaze slammed into Jared’s, but his warrior was examining his fingernails carefully and refused to meet Adam’s gaze.
Jensen continued. “Rule Three: Respect each other. We are all from different lines and have different strengths. Let’s use those strengths against the enemy and not the differences against each other.”
He looked pointedly at Kris who scowled back at him. Eventually Kris’ gaze dropped and a minute nod gave a satisfied Jensen the impetus to finish. “Lastly, Rule Four: Communicate. I don’t care if all you do is yell at each other about not picking up your clothes, but we need to have the air cleared between us at all times.”
Jensen took a breath and Allison butted in, “Can we communicate our distaste at this display of megalomania?”
Even Adam cracked a small smile at this and Jared started laughing helplessly. “You’re all a little crazy, aren’t you?”
After the initial forum, the group went back to the war room. Jensen logged on to the police mail and called up the cases assigned to them that morning.
Jared’s eyes widened at the sheer number of cases that scrolled across the large screen on the back wall. “That is one hell of a lot of work for five people!”
His exclamation was greeted by a wry grin from Allison. “What do you know about LG99, warrior-boy?”
Glowering at the term, Jared replied, “Just that the other cop departments call you guys the Last Gasp unit. And not in a good way.”
Jensen nodded. “That’s exactly what we are. What you see here are all the unsolved cases that have gone dormant or unsolved for the last 6 months. They download this daily - countrywide. ”
Jared looked at him, disbelieving. “That can’t be right.”
Jensen shrugged. “Unfortunately, it’s the major part of what we do here. I’m not saying that we solve every one of these cases and certainly not in one day, but it is our job to find closure for some of these people who have been robbed, raped, burgled or lost loved ones.”
Jared looked over at Adam, eyes sharp and questioning. Adam’s headshake was almost imperceptible but Kris had been watching him closely.
Kris’ eyes were warm with understanding as he said, “This is how you feel you can atone for what you perceive as your sin, isn’t it?”
Kris’ face softened and he leaned forward, “I can’t read your mind, Adam, but as you’ve already explained to us, the imperative to take another’s energy is not one that you can help or stop. Feeling such a need for atonement is not unexpected.”
Adam’s voice was low with pain, “I am not…accustomed… to sharing my feeling with others. This is going to be a period of adjustment for me. Your perception is remarkable, seer. Even without your telepathic abilities you are able to see this about me.”
Kris appeared a little uncomfortable and then responded, “Well, seeing as everyone is all sharing and emoting here, I suppose that you and Jared should know something else about me.”
Jensen wanted to protest but this was Kris’ decision. He held his tongue.
Kris’ eyes were anxious as he met Adam’s bright gaze. “I am not merely a psychic telepath. My abilities are slightly more…well, more.” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “I am also an empath and telekinetic and all my abilities are level 5 and over.”
Jared exchanged a glance with Jensen, who nodded at him, affirming Kris’ statement. Jared exclaimed, “Over? There is no ‘over’!”
Adam’s hard mouth was curled in a grin that spoke his understanding. “So you are also a freak?” Kris nodded and the mage leaned back in his chair. “We are a fine pair,” he smiled and Kris grinned back.
Jensen printed out the case files for that day, over 200 of them, and sorted them according to the severity of the crime.
He gave the pile of cases to Kris and Allison. “Let’s show our new friends how we do this thing.” Allison took Kris’ hand in one of hers and passed him the first file with the other hand. He looked down at the face of the victim.
Alli read out the victim’s details, “Daye, Karenina, 42, reported minor assault 24 November 2424.” The hand not held tightly by Allison touched the photograph carefully.
Jared and Adam watched in fascination as his eyes flew open and his pupils dilated until his eyes went black. “I can sense his energy. Please give me something that he touched.”
Jensen went to the transport chute and tapped in the case file reference number. The buzz and spit as the evidence box arrived was the only noise in the room and Jensen pulled the box out of the chute.
He opened it, and held it out to Allison who took Kris’ hand and put it into the box. Kris’ fingers flexed and then seized a bag. Jensen took the bag from Kris’ fingers and opened it. The piece of fabric inside was small and dark and Jen gave it back to Kris who clasped it again.
“It’s his, from his shirt,” Kris shook his head, eyes still blind and Allison’s hand tightened. “She grabbed his arm when he tried to run. Brave girl. She didn’t want him to get her necklace. Her mother gave it to her. He pushed her and she fell against the closet.”
Jensen’s gaze was drawn to Jared who was watching Kris, spellbound. He dragged his eyes away from Jared and watched the visible field of energy surround Kris and Alli’s clasped hands.
Jared leaned over to whisper to Jensen, “What’s going on? Why is Allison in this?”
He replied, low and brief, “Kris can’t handle this alone. Allison heals him as he works.”
Jensen’s eyes met Adam’s and the mage nodded. “That makes sense; it takes a lot of energy to scry in this way.”
Allison’s grip never wavered and the energy field around their hands slowly eased off until it was invisible once more.
With a shuddering breath, Kris’ eyes returned to normal and he looked up at Jensen. “I saw him. He looked at himself in the mirror when she fell against it. We’ve seen him before.”
Jensen nodded, face grim. “And the victim lived?”
Allison answered. “She’s fine, just pissed. The hypnotherapy has wiped most of the actual attack from her mind. Kris has got his scent though and she’ll be able to identify him in court.”
Adam’s eyes were watchful as he observed her hand stroking down Kris’ back, unconscious comfort. “We need to get this guy, Jen. If he’s done it before, he’ll go on doing it.” Allison sounded ragged.
Kris nodded agreement. “I think you might find at least one other case among the cold cases. I am sure that I have seen him before.” He stood and walked to the wall of files at the back of the room and held his hands towards them. One of the files separated from the rest and flew into his hand, followed swiftly by another.
He walked back to the table and handed them to Jared. “I think he’s still here in the city. I think he’s planning on leaving soon though. We need to move fast.”
“Goddamn stubborn fucking police who won’t fucking give us a case until it’s fucking ice cold and then the fucking bastard has done it again.” Jensen muttered angrily to himself as he paged through the files of unsolved cases.
“We’ve had these for months already, but because the assailant has always kept his face hidden, Kris hasn’t been able to get a physical description of him. Kris’ power only works if the victim catches a glimpse of the criminal.” Allison explained Jen’s outburst to Adam and Jared.
Jensen looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder and Jared asked, “So what do you need us to do?”
Jensen’s gaze rested on Adam, dark and silent as he watched Kris, and said, “We need you, Adam actually, to find them once we have the Identi-kit. We don’t have names or anything specific. Kris is powerful, but he generally can only give us clues as to name and place. You are going to help us locate them using Kris’ visions.”
Adam turned his head to look at him and Jensen looked into his endless blue eyes. Adam nodded. “Sounds like a plan, only one snag though.” Jensen raised his brows enquiringly. “I’ll need to link with someone to get the information. It can be either Kris or Allison. I can’t do a location spell on a piece of paper.”
He looked over at Kris who had stopped rubbing at his head and was watching them. “One of them is going to have to let me into their minds.”
Allison was shaking her head. “No way, Jen, count me out of this one. I ain’t gonna have my brain sucked out!”
Adam’s face tightened briefly, and Jensen saw Kris noticed. “If I touch you, I can control the feeding urge. It works differently if I initiate the link.” His tone was clipped and impatient.
Allison was still shaking her head. “Don’t care too much about that, friend. Only Kris gets into my mind.”
Jensen’s shoulders lifted in a sigh and he looked at the seer who was still watching the mage carefully. “Kris?”
Jensen’s question dragged Kris’ attention to him. “Yes?”
Rolling his eyes, he asked Kris, “Would you be okay with Adam doing the mind touch? I know that you like to control the link, but if he can only use his spell-casting skills with a physical touch, then you are the only one who can help here.”
Kris considered this. “I think that it may be a very bad idea considering how I reacted earlier but as the big baby over there,” he looked briefly at a scowling Allison, “is too scared to let the mage link to her, then I guess it’ll have to be me.”
His eyes narrowed as they returned to Adam. “I would like to test out your control though, before we go any further.”
A brief nod was Adam’s only response but Allison objected, “C’mon Jen! You can’t be serious? He’ll destroy Kris.”
Jared jumped to his feet in anger, “Hey, enough with the insults, lady! If Adam says he can control the link, then that’s exactly what he can do. He doesn’t lie.” Jensen felt something stir inside him. It had been a long time since he’d found anyone even a little interesting. Jared was more than interesting.
Allison stepped back at the warrior’s attack and put her hands up in surrender. “Whoa there, dude. I didn’t mean to insult your master. I’m just looking out for my partner.”
“What’s the difference between the warrior-mage bond and the healer-psychic bond then?” Jared snapped. “He uses you just like Adam uses me!”
“He doesn’t suck the life-force from my body!” Allison shouted back, hands fisted. “He doesn’t drain me, he shares his power with me!”
“Okay you two, simmer down,” Jensen stepped between them and gave them each a warning look. They backed off and glared at each other, but shut up.
Kris and Adam hadn’t moved and Jensen looked at them. The tension between them was almost visible and he declared, “Kris, it’s your choice, but maybe we can conduct this little experiment under some kind of control?”
Neither answered him and he waved a big hand in front of Ice’s face. “Hello? Am I talking to myself here?”
They broke eye contact and the seer’s gaze met his commander’s. “It’s okay. He can control it.”
Allison stared at Kris for a moment and then exploded. “What? You linked with him already? Without a ground?”
Jensen sighed and shook his head. “You two just broke Rule One. I’m gonna have to think of an appropriate punishment. Later.” He looked at the mage. “D’you think you can find our little thief now?”
Adam nodded eyes hooded and heaven blue. “When I linked with Kris, I got a reading. He’s in Parktown District. Somewhere between 3rd and 5th Avenue. Get the metro cops to pick him up. They’ll appreciate the chance to shine for a change. He’s a street player; guitar and trombone.”
This time it was Jared who pointed a finger at Adam while Allison went to make the call. “Adam, you know you mustn’t spell without backup, man. It’s too draining on you.”
Adam smiled briefly at Jared, affection softening his gaze. “It was only a small spell, Jay. I have plenty of energy right now. Plenty of backup too.” He looked intently at Kris again. “Kris will be an able bodyguard for me when travelling the light. He shines brighter than the sun.”
Adam and Kris stared at each other and neither dropped their gaze. The others in the room simply disappeared. Jensen wanted to shout in frustration but it looked like his empath had made an intense impression on his newmage.
Adam’s smile was slightly bitter as he finally broke the link. “This will work fine. Kris and I will balance each other out very nicely. He’s an energy conduit, a booster if you like, and I won’t need to use up as much of my energy if I work with him.”
Jensen looked between them and realised that beyond the initial dislike was an attraction that he hadn’t bargained for. Somehow this particular disaster would have to be averted. The team was more important than the individual. He didn’t need messy emotion to fuck everything up.
“Ice, do you think the second room is acceptable for Jared and Adam?” He deliberately brought everyone’s attention back to him.
Kris dragged his gaze away from Adam and took a deep breath. “There are two beds in the other room, Jen. I’m sure they’ll be fine.” His eyes were puzzled though as he looked at Jensen.
Jared smiled at Kris. “Thanks, man.” Adam watched Jensen closely. He understood what Jensen was doing here. It was a knee-jerk reaction and he was laying claim to Kris.
Jensen was determinedly cheerful. “Well, that’s great then. Jared and Adam in the spare room and Allison, Kris and me in the main room.”
Jared’s question didn’t take long. “The three of you? Together?” Incredulity laced his tone. Jensen looked at Jared and for just a moment felt a sadness emanating from him.
Adam didn’t say anything. Jensen nodded to Jared, “Yeah, we’re pretty tight.” He deliberately let them think what they wanted.
Kris looked between Adam and Jensen and spoke to Adam. “Jen’s a brick. I can’t hear anything if I’m next to him; I sleep.” He didn’t need to explain himself, Jensen thought and glared.
Adam merely nodded. “I see,” he said quietly and Jensen could almost feel the caress in his voice. Kris certainly did because his cheeks went hot and he shuddered a little.
Allison walked back into the recon room and added, “Yeah, well, Kris here can’t sleep at night with all the psychic noise. He says that sleeping with us is like sleeping in a shield. We keep everything out.”
Jared nodded, clearly confused. “Okay, whatever.” He shrugged and looked at Jensen from beneath long dark lashes. “Pity,” he murmured and Jensen felt his own skin heat.
Jensen saw Kris watching Adam. Adam stared at Jensen. He stared back at Adam. He wanted to say something but held back for now. He needed Adam to understand that the bond between Kris, Allison and Jensen was strong and true. Kris needed to be protected. Adam had to know that looking after Allison and Kris was his job. Jensen had been doing it for a year already and he wasn’t about to stop now, no matter how entangled Kris and Adam were getting.
He couldn’t reassure Jensen. He could see the storm brewing in his eyes. He tried to smile but could tell it was a little wobbly.
Adam turned to look at him again, eyes troubled, and Kris wanted to close his own eyes and let his mind link with Adam’s again. That brief moment, genuinely joined to Adam’s spirit, had been unlike anything he had ever experienced. He had been bathed in power and shadow and it had felt as though he had come home in some peculiar way. It was something that he needed to sit and think about in some quiet place. Later.
Kris had a sneaky suspicion however, that nothing was going to stop this ‘thing’ with him and Adam. He wanted to tell Jensen that he’d probably be sharing a life with Adam soon. But that would probably make his head explode. He caught Jared’s grin and grinned back at him. Maybe Jen wouldn’t mind it so much if he got Jared to replace him.
Jensen was amazing and Kris respected him intensely. Strong and honest, instinctively trustworthy; he led by example, but emotions were funny creatures. They tended to blur the heart and sever the brain. Kris had felt the connection with Adam on a level that he had never expected. He didn’t have that with Jensen.
Kris prodded at Adam with a psychic finger and felt barriers slam into place.
“Out!” Adam ordered and glared at Kris.
He allowed a tiny smirk to cross his mouth and he severed the link with Adam. He wasn’t involved with Jensen and wanted Adam to know that.
His gaze wandered over Adam’s beautiful face and long lean body. Kris had never taken a mate, fearful of what the response would be to his powers. In Adam he had found someone who was as powerful as he was - if not more so - and who would not be afraid to link with him permanently.
Once Jensen started leading them through their daily routine, inevitably, Adam and Jared had questions about their procedures.
“Why do you prefer to start with the rape cases?”
Alli answered Adam’s question. “Rape is against everything our society stands for. Since the early 2200’s when they finally enforced the Anti-Intercourse Act, rape has become the anti-establishment’s method of protest. It’s very personal.” Her face was earnest and Kris put a hand on her shoulder, just letting her know he was there.
Jared nodded. “Yeah, I see what you mean. Murder is violent, but there is something particular about rape that seems worse than murder.” Adam watched Kris’ face and he struggled to keep his emotions hidden.
Then Adam spoke quietly. “When I was born, the AIA was not even dreamed of. That was a time when we even bore children the old-fashioned way.” Kris could feel his expression grow horrified and a laugh bubbled out of Adam’s mouth. “It wasn’t so terrible, you know. Sex was actually quite pleasurable.”
Jensen’s face twisted with disgust. “Come on, you know our history, mage. Sex was the chief cause of the AIDS pandemic as well as the main reason for genetic mutation. If the human race had banned intercourse a couple of hundred years earlier…”
“We wouldn’t be here today.” Adam concluded for him with a sharp glare. “You know nothing about those times, merely what you read in the history books. Genetic mutation from full sexual intercourse, resulted in the lines we have today. Kris, Jensen, Allison and I wouldn’t be here at all.”
Kris grinned. “So did you ever ‘do it’, you know, the old fashioned way?” He waggled his eyebrows and Jensen sat back, rolling his eyes.
Adam’s bright eyes glinted mischievously. “I wouldn’t want to corrupt your pristine little minds.”
The protests from the men were loud and Alli shook her head. “You know, no matter how they try to breed the idiot gene out, I think that it is too much part of the alpha male line.” Her scowl encompassed all of them and she got up to pour herself some more coffee.
Jensen pressed Adam for answers but the mage just shook his head. “It really wouldn’t be fair. Full-on body-to-body sex has been not been practised in more than two hundred years. It’s better that you don’t know about it; that you don’t know what you’ve all been missing.”
“But the mind mating is so much healthier,” Allison protested. “No bodily fluids exchanged and no chance of catching some hideous disease.”
“Or having some part of someone else inside you,” Jared shuddered and Kris wanted to laugh at the horrified expression on his face.
“But it felt so good,” Adam told them and they all made noises of varying degrees of revulsion. “Besides, there isn’t much about mind-mating that is intimate physically.”
“At least it won’t kill you,” Jensen pointed out.
“Unless the Mind-Mate Module shorts out and fries your brain,” Adam said. “You non-line folks are still in some danger of death by sex. At least those of us who can mate without the M3 are safe.”
Jared flipped Adam off and Kris caught Adam’s laughing gaze and felt an answering grin cross his mouth. Somehow, the thought of having a piece of Adam inside him wasn’t the terrifying prospect it should have been.
Eventually, after trying fruitlessly to get more information out of Adam, Jensen called his team to order. “Okay, guys, I guess the mystery of sex will have to remain just that; a mystery. Let’s get to work.”
Allison and Kris worked their way through the rape cases slowly, sometimes discarding a file where the rapist was dead or the accusation was false. Jen was kept busy at the transport chute, bringing evidence to Kris when he got a bead on the assailant, taking it back once he was done.
Jared spent much of the time paging through the other files, separating the petty crimes from the more serious ones. The crime didn’t matter; if it was six months unsolved, it was handed over to LG99.
Adam took details down, lay spells to track the criminals that Kris could get a lock on and passed the information on to Jensen who patched it through the various police departments around the country.
Kris watched Jared wander over to Jensen who was entering the statistics for the day. “Can I ask you a question?”
Jensen looked up at him. “Sure. What’s on your mind?” Kris could see that there was something in Jensen’s eyes; something that hadn’t been there for some time. It made him smile. And hope.
Jared waved his hand at the activity around them. “Why do they only hand these cases over after six months? Why don’t they get LG99 involved immediately if the success rate is so good?”
Jensen leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “Good question. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t one that makes any of us happy. The PD is a little ashamed of the ‘weird squad’ as they like to call us. They prefer to pretend that we don’t exist.”
Jared shook his head, confused. “But isn’t that stupid? I mean, wouldn’t it make sense if the police force handed a file over sooner rather than later?”
Kris answered that one. “Of course, but I guess they hate that we are able to solve crimes that they can’t. Plus Jen here has managed to piss off every station commander in the San Angeles PD with his wit and charm.”
Jensen bared his teeth at Kris who rolled his eyes and said, “You’ve heard their name for us: Last Gasp. We prefer to think of ourselves as the Last Guardians, the last line of defence between the world and total anarchy.”
Jared grinned at Kris. “I like that. The Last Guardians. Cool name.” Kris saw his green eyes turn serious when he looked over at Adam, who appeared very weary suddenly. “Do you need a boost, boss?” The concern in his voice was real, as was the gentle hand on Adam’s shoulder.
Adam shook his head. “No, I’m just going to have to learn to pace myself better than this or you’ll end up being used up in a month.” The matter-of-fact remark was met with Jared’s equally unperturbed acknowledgement. Kris still couldn’t comprehend the bond between warrior and mage; it wasn’t natural wasn’t right.
Allison, who had been concentrating on healing Kris, had fortunately missed the conversation. He was grateful for that as she would certainly have started an argument. The two involved in the strange symbiosis appeared quite unconcerned though and he wondered at the world Adam had been born into.
Kris was exhausted. The day had spilled past, filled with the usual violence and bloodshed. He found the murders were easier to deal with than the assaults. Reading a live crime was much more draining than a dead one. But then, the dead didn’t speak and that made things even more difficult.
There were no easy cases, he thought. The world, despite scientific and technological advancement, was still the same melting pot of brutality and hatred. Things changed, and yet they stayed the same.
He shook his head at the last thought. “I think I’m done for the day, guys. My brain isn’t making sense anymore.” He stood up and stretched, back cracking in several places.
Allison sent a grin his way, eyes concerned, and joked, “You never make sense!” Kris was too tired to respond except with a particularly graphic hand gesture.
Eyebrows raised, Allison gasped dramatically, clutching at her chest. “Kris! That’s way rude, dude!”
“Bite me.” He snapped his teeth in a bite. Kris, when weary, was a nasty beast indeed.
Allison grinned back at him and patted his ass. “You need a nice hydro, Mr. Cranky, and then a nap and you’ll be good to go.”
Leaning a little against Allison, he went with her to the bathroom where the deep hydro pool bubbled. Waving her out when she offered her help, he tugged off his tunic and slid into the heated water. Hissing with pleasure, he submerged his entire body. Today had taken a lot out of him.
He knew the danger that lay in trying to read the mage, but couldn’t resist a small mental nudge in his direction.
“No!” Adam pushed back so quickly that Kris gasped. “Don’t even think about it, Kris. It’s too dangerous.”
Kris slipped further down in the water until he was looking up at the water’s surface from the bottom of the hydro pool. Watching the silvering bubbles rising, he thought about Adam.
He was drawn to Adam, but repelled at the same time when he thought about what Adam had to do to survive. He blew bubbles upwards and sent the day’s cases to the box at the back of his mind with them. Shutting the visions off at night was the hardest thing of all.
Then he felt the gentle knock against his mind-block. “Can we talk?” Adam whispered in his head and he remained submerged, holding his breath in more than one fashion. ”Just talk, nothing more.”
“Yes.” Kris’ reply was as soft as Adam’s request had been and he experienced a feather-light stroke down his body and through his spirit. He sighed and arched like a cat beneath the water. “That felt wonderful.”
Adam’s grin was in his voice. ”Better healing than Allison?”
He smiled, let Adam feel the smile. “Not better, different. Good different.”
He arched again as Adam stroked him with his mind. “I need you to tell me something, Kris, and to be honest about it.”
If he hadn’t felt so good, he would have been insulted by the question. “Hey! I always tell the truth. Ask your question, Mage.”
He was utterly unprepared when Adam asked, “Will you be mine?”
His mouth opened in shock and he swallowed a mouthful of water. Gasping and choking, he lunged for the surface of the hydro pool and clutched the edge while clearing his lungs.
“Are you alright?” The concerned question made him chuckle weakly.
He answered, “I’m fine, although you almost killed me with shock.”
“Why?” Adam’s tone was annoyingly calm. ”We don’t need to play games with each other, Kris. As soon as we touched, we were bonded.” Kris felt anger rise and then he slumped. Adam hadn’t been arrogant at all. He’d been completely matter-of-fact and Kris had read his truth.
He recognised the certainty and replied, “It shouldn’t happen, Adam. It will cause too many problems in the team.”
The voice in his head smiled. “Personally, I think denying our connection will make things more difficult, but as you wish.”
Somehow Kris suspiciously thought that the matter was not concluded. He felt Adam’s presence leave his mind as softly as a whisper. He felt an almost physical pain at his departure. This was going to suck ass if it happened every time he and Adam spent time together.
Kris climbed out of the hydro bath and stood in the drying tube. The blast of crisp air sucked the water from his skin and he tugged on the sleep shorts Alli had left at the door of the bathroom. He felt unsteady as he made his way to his bed and lay down, weariness pushing him deep into the mattress.
Some days were better than others. This day had been exhausting with his interaction with Adam. He made Kris feel…feel. It had been so long since he had allowed anyone other than the team close enough to touch him psychically. Adam had breached all his defences without even seeming to try.
His last thought as his mind shut down was wondering what real, full-on, body-to-body sex was like if Adam appeared to have enjoyed it so much. Yeah, this wasn’t good at all.
Jensen watched Adam. His face had gone still and he had a half-smile curving his mouth as though he was enjoying a private show that no one else could see.
“Hey, Jen?” Jared poked his ankle with his toe.
“Hm?” he asked, distracted by Adam’s almost grin.
“You and Kris,” Jared asked, “you’re a mind-mate couple?”
Jensen stopped looking at Adam and brought his gaze to Jared’s hazel eyes. He thought about how to answer this one. If he said no, then Adam was sure to hear it and he’d swoop in and claim Kris. But if he said yes…
“No,” he replied, not wanting to discourage Jared. He felt something there, interest.
Jared smiled at him and there was nothing innocent about it. Jensen’s cock gave a twitch and he mentally told it to sit down. Nothing to do with the long torso or deep dimples of the man in front of him.
“Good,” Jared said and for the first time Jensen just wanted. He could almost imagine the twenty-first century imperative to mate in a physical way when he looked at Jared. Almost.
Jensen felt something cold touch the back of his neck and he looked around to see Alli holding out a beer.
“Beer?” she asked. He nodded and she passed the tube to him. She waggled one at Jared who held up a hand and caught it when she tossed it at him.
“You are an angel of mercy, Alli-cat,” Jared told her gratefully and sucked in about half of the beer in one long gulp.
“Alli-cat?” she asked, one dark eyebrow raised.
“You make me think of a cat,” Jared said, “with your cute face and green eyes and red hair. A tabby cat.”
She grinned. “I like that.” She smacked Jensen on the back of his head. “Why haven’t you given me a nickname before?” she demanded.
Jensen rubbed at his head. “Because you threatened to do me grievous bodily harm if I called you anything but Allison or Alli,” he muttered.
“True,” Alli said, looking at Jared, “but he’s way prettier than you, so I guess I’ll let him.” She skipped out of the way of his hand and tossed a breezy goodnight over her shoulder.
Adam walked by Jared, resting a hand on his shoulder. “I’m going to turn in,” he said and Jensen noted the fine lines around his mouth.
Jared started to stand but Adam’s hand pressed down. “No, stay, I need a few minutes to settle.”
Jared nodded and Adam went into the second room, pulling the door closed behind him.
“Does he do that a lot?” Jensen asked.
Jared leaned back in his chair and drank the rest of his beer. “He’s an intense guy,” he said and his mouth quirked. “I’ve been with him for a year and we’ve been as close as two people can be without actually being the same person and I still don’t know anything about him.” He sounded rueful. “What he told you today is as much as I know.”
Jensen frowned. “What’s his deal though? I mean, I understand with the age and the energy sucking and the magic, but why doesn’t he open up?”
Jared sighed and leaned forward, eyes earnest. “Think about it, man. You’ve been alive for over three hundred years, you see everyone you care about grow old and die, again and again. Wouldn’t you be careful about getting emotionally attached to anyone?”
Jensen thought about it and felt a little ill. “Yeah, that would be tough.” He shook his head. “I guess I can understand that.” He glanced at the closed door. “It’s pretty hard to stay uninvolved here, though,” he said.
Jared looked at him, face enquiring. Jensen explained, “I mean, we live together, we work together, we basically breathe together. It’s not gonna be easy for Adam to keep his distance with this crew.”
“I guess he’s going to have to learn to deal or go nuts,” Jared shrugged and stood, stretching. Jensen watched the sliver of toned stomach as his shirt rode up. Jared caught him looking and grinned lazily. “Take me to dinner at least before you objectify me, man,” he said.
Jensen felt himself blush. He hadn’t been this stupid around a guy since…God, he couldn’t remember since when. “Okay,” he agreed and carried on looking at the long lines of Jared’s body.
Jared stopped stretching and walked over to Jensen’s chair. He put his hands on the armrests on either side of Jensen’s body and leaned in. Jensen caught the scent of musk and male and he had to clench his fists against the impulse to reach up and take. “Night, Jen,” Jared said softly.
“Night, Jay,” Jensen replied, equally soft and he lifted his gaze to meet Jared’s. He wanted. He couldn’t believe how badly he wanted, but he didn’t say anything else.
Jared pulled away, his eyes were hot and his breath a little fast. He sauntered to the room he and Adam were sharing and sent a last glance at Jensen before he went inside.
Jensen let the breath go that he’d been holding. That guy was lethal.
Kris woke to the sound of Allison’s soft snores. He poked her in the side and she rolled over with a grunt. He sat up and scooted down to the end of the bed. He hopped off and went to the bathroom to grab a quick shower. By the time he was done, Jen was making waking noises and Alli had shoved her pillow over her head.
His sleep had been restless. He’d never really trusted his dreams but he’d had this one for about three nights in a row now. His brain was trying to tell him something.
He went out to the kitchen and coaxed the coffee maker into life.
“You should put it out of its misery,” Adam said from his seat at the window.
Kris made an undignified squeak and spun around. “Morning,” Adam said and smiled. He was in flowing silk robes, looking every inch the mysterious mage.
Kris scowled at him. “I think I’m going to buy you a bell. You look like the sort of person who likes creeping up on people.”
Adam’s smile widened. “I’ve been up for a while,” he told Kris. “I got bored.”
Kris walked over to where Adam was sitting. “Did you sleep okay?” he asked.
Adam shook his head. “You shout in your sleep,” he said.
“I do not,” Kris denied and then asked, “do I?”
“Yes, loudly, and your dream is a premonition.” Adam’s voice was soft and thoughtful.
“Really?” Kris asked and then glared. “And just what the hell were you doing in my dream?”
“Visiting you? Trying to shut you up?” Adam suggested and Kris’ frown deepened. “Fine, I just wanted to see if the link worked whether we were awake or not.”
“What link?” Kris asked.
“The link we formed yesterday, the first time we touched minds,” Adam reminded him. “It won’t help pretending that the bond doesn’t exist. It does.” He smiled again, this time a little ruefully. “Now we just have to figure out how to work with it.”
Kris was suspicious and more than a little freaked out. “Just what does this link or bond thing mean?” he demanded.
The machine gave a squawk and Kris went to pour them each a cup of coffee. He handed one to Adam and sat down opposite him, drawing his knees up and staring at Adam. “Come on, explain,” he said again.
Adam took a slow sip and leaned back against the window. Kris was distracted at the sunlight on Adam’s skin. He had freckles. “Yes I do,” Adam said with a smile and Kris flushed when he realised that he’d said it out loud.
“Okay, the bond or link is like a bridge between us.” Adam’s eyes went soft as he looked at Kris. “I’ve never been bonded before. It’s a very strange feeling for me.”
Kris frowned as he thought about what Adam was saying. “So is that like a mind-mating then?” he asked.
Adam shook his head. “Not really. This bond is like a mental link that means that you can find me or talk to me wherever you are and vice versa. But it also means that I am open to you, you will be able to see my secrets, my thoughts.”
“My dreams,” Kris murmured and Adam nodded.
Kris squirmed, a little uncomfortable. “But that’s intrusive right? I mean, you can rummage around in my brain whenever you like.”
Adam’s mouth quirked. “I’ve got a whole lot more to hide from you than you do from me, Kris,” he said. “We can train ourselves to block the other out when we want to rest, but nothing stays hidden for long.”
Kris tipped his head to one side. “You don’t seem very concerned,” he observed, “I would have thought that you would be trying everything you could to break the link.” He was puzzled.
“I don’t want to break it,” Adam replied, eyes steady on him. “I want you, I want this.”
“But…” Kris began and then felt that whisper soft brush inside his head. He made a quiet noise and closed his eyes.
”This is what I have dreamed of for centuries,” Adam told him, ”I’ve waited so long for you.”
“Why me?” Kris asked out loud, not wanting to use the link any more than he should.
“Because it has to be someone who can be my equal, my partner, my mate,” Adam followed Kris’ lead and spoke to Kris instead of the mind-speech. “It only happens once for a mage. And even then, sometimes we never find our bond-mate.”
“Bond-mate,” Kris tried out the term in his mouth. Adam’s smile made his heart stumble.
“But I don’t live as long as you do,” Kris pointed out.
Adam nodded. “True, but do you remember when we touched for that first brief moment yesterday?” Kris nodded and Adam continued, “It felt as though you could sustain me for a thousand years. The reverse would also be true. As a bond-mate, I would keep you healthy and alive for the length of my life.”
Kris stared at him. “I’d stay alive longer than the eighty or so years of a human line?”
Adam nodded slowly and then added, “But when I die, you will die.”
“Oh,” Kris said, trying to wrap his mind around this all. “I mean, what the fuck?” he asked. “What does that mean, when you die, I die? That’s such bullcrap!”
Adam started laughing. “Kris, I’m going to live for a very long time. You don’t have to worry about it.”
Kris wasn’t laughing. “What if I don’t want to be with you? What if I want to die young? What if I want to live even though you end up dying?”
Adam held up a hand. “We’ll have to handle everything as we come to it,” he said. “I’m afraid I have no experience with this either so we’re going to have to learn together.”
Kris grumbled as he sipped at his coffee, “I hate that I don’t have a choice in this.” There was a sort of trembly feeling in his stomach.
“I know,” Adam sighed, “But there’s nothing I can do about it now, we’re bonded and we’re going have to deal with it.”
“Deal with what?” Jared asked as he walked into the kitchen, scratching his belly under his shirt. Kris couldn’t help but admire the big, beautiful body.
“That Kris and I have become bond-mates,” Adam said, nudging at Kris. Kris smiled at him, unapologetic at being caught looking.
“For real?” Jared asked, “I thought that was a myth?”
“No,” Adam shook his head, “It’s real.”
“Horribly real,” Kris muttered and Jared grinned.
“So, we’re stuck with you then, short stuff?” he asked and ruffled Kris’ hair.
“Fuck you!” Kris mumbled, swatting at the offending hand and Jared laughed. He kicked at Jared as the big guy walked by to pour himself a cup of coffee. He relished the pained noise and bared his teeth when Jared turned on him.
“No fucking, of any kind, ever,” Alli mumbled in a monotone as she sloughed towards the coffee machine.
“I’m sure we’ve had this conversation already,” Jensen said, walking into the kitchen and giving them all a glare.
Kris couldn’t stop his grin. Jen was not a morning person. “Morning sunshine!” he called and Jensen scowled.
“Another one?” Jared asked and looked at Kris.
“Another what?” Kris asked, liking the twinkle in Jared’s eyes.
“Another one of the ‘don’t talk to me until ten am’ types?” Jared said in clarification.
Kris sniggered. “Oh yes, he’s a sweetheart before his coffee.” Jensen slurped his first hit of caffeine and lazily flipped them off.
“Adam too,” Jared confided. “He thinks that mornings should come later in the day.”
“You’re hilarious,” Adam said. “A regular Laurel and Hardy.” Kris and Jared stared at him in confusion. “Oh God, I am ancient,” he muttered and drank his coffee.
Kris rubbed his temple and the dull ache that was the remnant of his dream throbbed close to the surface.
Jensen put a hand on his shoulder. “You okay?” he asked, voice low and concerned.
“I don’t know,” Kris admitted. “I’ve had the same dream for the past three nights.” He chanced a look at Adam who stared back, impassive and allowing him to make his decision. “Adam says that my dream is not just a dream.”
Jensen looked at Adam suspiciously. “And just how do you know that?” he asked.
“I was in his dream last night,” Adam replied and there was a moment where Kris thought things would be okay and then Jensen and Jared started yelling at them. He caught Adam’s eye and they exchanged rueful grins.
“Irresponsible idiot,” Jared told Adam. “You don’t know what the consequences are for spelling without me there to ground you.”
Adam shrugged. “Kris is pretty good at it actually,” he said and that set Jensen off at Kris.
“Since when is it okay to let an energy-sucking mage into your head, you flea-brain?” Kris watched Jen’s ears turning red.
He caught Adam’s gaze and smiled at him. Adam smiled back and Kris looked up at Jensen.
“It’s okay, Jen,” Kris said, halting the tirade. “Adam and I, we’ve formed a link, a bond and it seems to be stable, as long as he’s the one controlling it.” He glanced at Adam, who nodded encouragingly. “But the dream is important and we need to talk about it.”
He stood up then and led the team to the recon room. Kris picked a file he had been unable to get a clear vision of yesterday.
He tapped the folder with a thoughtful finger. “This guy, he’s not just raping them; he’s violating them by siphoning off energy. Yet, I sense he’s building up to something more. I think that’s what my dream has been about.” He passed the file to Jensen who flipped through the police report.
He grimaced. “Yeah, this was a nasty one.” He handed the file to Jared. “This guy got off on the fear of the victim. He kept telling her to scream or beg. She said that it felt like he was sucking out her soul.”
Jared scowled. “The fucker cut her pretty bad.”
Kris nodded. “When I tried to get a sense of him, there was blackness, a hole and that’s what I dreamed of last night and the two nights before that.” He looked over at Adam. “Is he going to do this again? Is that what you meant by the dream being a premonition?”
Adam dipped his head. “Yes, I think that he will do this again and that you picked up on that urge.”
“I’ve never had premonitions,” Kris told him.
Adam shrugged. “I think that some powers are triggered later in life than others, once the mind is certain that the body and the soul can cope with them.” He looked at Jensen, eyes bleak. “My sense of this criminal is that he is psychic, level 5 perhaps, and he is using his skills to block us from catching him.”
Kris stared at Adam. “How the hell did you get that from that pit of black?” he asked.
Adam sighed. “Because, if you look inside me, that may be what you find there too.” He waited for Kris to understand, to realise what he was saying.
“You think he’s a mage?” Jared asked, catching on and Adam nodded.
“Yes, I believe he is and once a mage has gone rogue, the magic starts corrupting so that eventually there is no perception of right or wrong.”
“So,” Jensen said slowly, “you’re telling me that you think a mage has gone batshit crazy and is raping and sucking out the energy of random women in San Angeles?”
Jared interjected, “He’s doing to them what we do in the mage-warrior bond, but they don’t have the lineage to withstand his power.”
“He’s not just taking their bodies; he’s more or less taking their souls. He’s taking everything they have and leaving them barely human,” Adam said, “and if we don’t catch him, he will escalate and we could be looking at a serial killer with the power to kill with a thought.”
“Great,” Jen said in disgust, “just perfect.” He looked at Adam. “So, any suggestions as to how we go about stopping one of your line?”
“You will have to kill him,” Adam said bluntly. “Nothing short of extermination will stop him.”
“Fuck,” Jensen said and rubbed his eyes. “How are we going to do that?”
“With great difficulty,” Adam told him.
“We have to find him first,” Kris pointed out. Adam looked at him. “Let’s start with that, shall we?”
“Yes,” Adam said, “Let’s find him and then we kill him.”
“Fuck,” Jensen said again and scowled when Allison repeated it a second later.
Jensen watched Adam and Kris. There was something almost tangible running between them now; a silver fine energy chain, linked in power that joined them.
Kris would look up and Adam would be looking at him already. Adam would point something out and Kris would already be adding to it. They were sorting through cold cases, putting them in piles of varying sizes.
“That one,” Kris said, pointing at a file and Adam handed it to him.
“It’s not him,” Adam insisted and Kris shook his head.
“You’re right,” Kris said and it went into the pile in the middle. Adam was keying information into the police unit, linking the cases with small words so that they started forming a pattern that dated back several years.
Kris tapped his shoulder and said absently, “Make sure you note that we’re suspecting a mage gone rogue.”
Adam nodded and obeyed, ignoring the fact that Allison and Jared were glaring at them and shrugging helplessly at each other.
“Are you going to start finishing each other’s sentences now?” Jared asked eventually in irritation.
Adam and Kris looked up at him at the same time and though one set of eyes was blue and the other was brown, it was like the same person was looking out at him from two bodies. Jen realised that whatever had happened the day before, today there was something tangible between them.
Adam and Kris exchanged a glance and then turned back to him.
“No,” Adam replied, utterly serious and then Jensen caught the slight curl of his mouth and grinned at him.
“This is going to get old pretty quickly, you know?” he asked, throwing his hands up.
“Brain twins?” Alli asked, only mildly sarcastic.
“Nah,” Jared said, “siamese twins.” He slapped Alli’s hand in a moment of self-congratulation. Kris rolled his eyes.
“Should I be concerned about usurping anyone’s territory?” Adam asked him.
Kris poked him with an angry finger. “Dude, I am actually in the room,” he pointed out. Adam grabbed Kris’ finger and lifted it to his lips for a brief kiss. Kris’ eyes widened, unused to such easy physical affection.
“Should I?” Adam repeated, not looking away from Jensen.
Jen shook his head. “No, I thought that there might be a chance once for Kris and I to mind-mate but I can see that particular bond was not meant for us.” He waited to feel sad at the loss but there was just a small ache that dissipated quickly. “Besides, he’s a lot of hard work. Good luck with that.”
“Hey!” Kris protested, but there was little heat behind it. He seemed to settle into Adam’s side like the space there had been created for him.
Jared put a big hand on Jensen’s shoulder. “I guess I’ll be sharing your room tonight,” he said and Jen did not feel heat flash though him when he said it. He was very good at lying to himself.
“I’m not sharing a bed with a stranger,” Allison grumbled. “I’ll use the pullout in the living room.”
Jared’s mouth went tight. “I don’t want you to have to…”
Alli interrupted him. “Dude, I just share the Jen & Kris bed for Kris to have a good night’s sleep. He’s going to be with Adam now so I’m not needed ergo I don’t need to sleep with Jen who snores like a machine.”
“Excuse me?” Kris put up his hand. “But just when were the musical beds decided?”
Adam’s smile was broader now. “While you were paying attention to other things, Empath,” he told him.
Kris narrowed his eyes. “We’re definitely going to have to have a chat about this bossy tendency you seem to have,” he said.
“He’s a mage,” Jared shrugged, “they all think they’re the end of any argument.” Jensen choked on his coffee and laughed. Jared helpfully smashed him on the back to stop the coughing.
Kris turned back to the files he’d pulled earlier. He picked it up in one hand and held out his other. Allison moved close and took it between hers. Adam watched the exchange, eyes worried.
“He’s strong,” Kris murmured and his entire body shook. “I can feel his power; it’s like a lightning noose around her chest.” He looked at Jensen, “Is there any physical evidence from the attack?”
Jen shook his head, “He took her while she was asleep; she hasn’t woken since.”
Kris nodded. “I feel him. He burns, like fire.”
Allison shook her head. “Kris shouldn’t be able to link like this, not without something from the crime in his hands.” Her eyes were troubled and her mouth drawn.
Adam started moving towards him but Jared put a hand on his chest. “Nope, sorry boss, but you need to stay right where you are. This isn’t safe for you.”
Adam’s teeth were bared as he pushed against Jared. “Let me go to him, the mage has his scent and I need to shield him,” he demanded.
“No can do,” Jared shook his head and Jensen moved up next to him.
Adam’s eyes flashed at him. “Don’t you even try to stop me,” he warned Jensen.
“My first priority is getting Ice back safe, not dealing with you having a fit because he’s going through something bad.” Jensen kept his face impassive as he looked at Adam.
“He is my bond-mate,” Adam told him through gritted teeth.
“He is my responsibility,” Jensen said, striving to keep calm. “Don’t fuck with something that’s been working well for more than a year.”
“I’m okay,” Kris said from behind them and Jared let Adam go to him. Jensen turned around and watched as Kris sagged against Adam. He nearly disappeared into the embrace.
“You should have let me…” Adam began and Kris started shaking his head immediately.
“No, you can’t be in my head when I’m doing this, Adam. It’s not up for discussion.” He pressed his face into the curve of Adam’s neck. “But I won’t turn down your comfort after.”
“I can make the ‘seeing’ easier for you,” Adam told him, mouth soft against Kris’ hair. “Let me.”
Jensen watched Kris - independent, stubborn Kris - lift his face and look into Adam’s eyes. “I can’t,” he said and his voice was almost inaudible. “He might find you.”
Suddenly Jensen understood what Kris was doing. “Are you saying that Adam can help you with your scrying but you’re being difficult because you think that your boyfriend might get hurt?”
He was pinned by two identical glares and put up a hand. “I do not care about your new domestic situation. We have a job to do and we have to accomplish it in the most efficient way possible.”
Kris started to speak and then closed his mouth. Adam spoke, “I can help Kris and Allison. I can ‘boost’ the signal as it were as well as shield him from the criminal. That’s why I’m here, is it not?” He raised an eyebrow but Jensen noted that his arms stayed clasped around Kris’ shoulders.
“It is,” Jensen nodded and sent a hard glare at Kris. “No more arguments. If Adam says that he can help, then let him.”
Kris stared at Jensen for a moment, jaw set. “I don’t think…”
Jensen decided he was done arguing. “That is an order.”
Adam nudged at Kris’ temple with his mouth. “It will not endanger me,” he assured Kris, “but it will assist you to find the mage. It will keep him from being able to find you through your own energy signal.”
Kris pursed his lips. “You swear that he won’t be able to find you if we link?” He stared up at Adam intently.
“He will not be able to find me,” Adam repeated but his face was dark. “He’ll want to find you though, now that he’s tasted your energy. He’ll want it for himself.”
“Okay then,” Kris said and Jensen scowled.
“I had already given you a direct order, Kris. It wasn’t actually up for discussion,” Jensen said and he quelled the surge of irritation.
“I won’t put someone in danger.” Kris’ jaw was set in a stubborn line and Jensen knew that he was not going to be reasoned with right now.
“I …” Jen started to say and felt the press of a warm hand at the base of his spine. He turned to look at whoever was interrupting him.
Jared’s eyes were sympathetic. “I know that this is all a little crazy, but Adam is really good at his job and it seems as though your Kris is just as good.” He tilted his head. “Maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt?”
Jensen hated losing any sort of argument but he had a suspicion that his empath and new mage were going to prove difficult to control. He sighed. “I like my world working the way I like it.”
Jared grinned. “That doesn’t happen too much with Adam around.” He looked over at Kris and Adam who were already pouring over the file that Kris had touched earlier.
Adam kept one hand on Kris’ shoulder, not getting in the way as Alli concentrated on healing him while he worked. “He’s angry that I’m blocking him,” Adam said and he was smiling.
“I get the impression of sand and sun,” Kris murmured. “Not sure if it means that’s where he lives or that’s where he hunts.”
Adam’s eyes were closed. “He lives where he hunts,” he said.
Jensen walked over to them, Jared close on his heels. “That’s not the normal modus operandi for a serial criminal. They don’t piss where they sleep.”
Adam opened his eyes and Jensen saw endless night. “This one doesn’t care. It’s part of the thrill, part of the challenge. He likes that no one in his neighbourhood suspects what he is, who he is.”
Jensen reached out to take Adam’s arm but Jared quickly tugged him back. “Don’t touch him when he is spelling. It would kill you.”
Jen looked at Jared, impatient for answers and Adam said, “They all know him. He knows them. He enjoys the hunt. He likes to pretend to be shocked and horrified along with everyone else in the community.” His eyes were storm dark and furious.
Kris sagged against Allison and Adam, wrung dry from the scrying. “The rogue has done it many times before.” He sounded certain and Jensen wanted to scream in frustration.
“I need more information,” Jen objected and Adam swung around, eyes fierce.
“You have all that we can give you right now,” Adam said, voice low. “If I had pushed any further into the victim’s psyche I would have done too much harm.”
Jensen stared at Adam. “You’re reading the victim too?” he asked and looked to Kris for confirmation.
Kris nodded. “Adam’s like a powerhouse battery, Jen. He boosts the connection but he goes deeper than I can.” He looked up at Adam, eyes warm. “He could take away their will, their choice, but he opts to heal them instead.”
Allison was leaning against the table, soaked with sweat and shaking. “God, he’s like this magnifying glass. He just looks into you and makes everything huge.” She looked at Adam with respect. “Dude, you’re fucking awesome!”
Adam inclined his head with a small smile and then crumpled to the floor. Jared moved in a heartbeat and was beside him, reaching down and picking him up before anyone else had a chance to move. “Adam!” he shouted and Jensen rushed to help him carry the mage to a chair.
Jared placed him down carefully and pulled a small, wicked looking knife out of his boot. “Don’t look if blood makes you squeamish,” he ordered and he sliced at the vein in his left wrist.
He held it to Adam’s mouth and said, voice hard, “Drink.”
Almost sub-consciously, Adam obeyed, mouth opening and drawing strongly at the blood welling from the cut. He moaned and drooped after a few seconds, letting Jared’s arm fall away. Allison came over to Jared, hand covering the cut and healed it in a moment.
“I didn’t know he drank from you,” Kris’ voice was low. “I thought it was only the energy he took.”
Jared spared him a glance but Jensen could see his entire focus was Adam. “When he’s pushed himself too far, the only thing that can help him recover fast enough is blood.”
Adam’s lashes flickered and lifted, blue eye hazy with exhaustion. He looked at the circle of concerned faces and smiled slowly. “I’m okay,” he assured them, “just tired.”
Jared was in full-on protector mode as he glared at Adam. “You are the most stubborn, unreasonable…”
Adam’s hand on his mouth shut him up. “You love me,” he said with a grin.
“Bite me,” Jared told him.
Adam’s smile widened. “I have and I will, thank you.” The gratitude was softer, more sincere and Jared’s shoulders slumped as he dropped his head in relief.
“Don’t do it again,” Jared said quietly.
“You know I can’t make that promise,” Adam told him. Kris came nearer and touched Adam’s cheek.
“You drink blood.” His voice was flat and Jensen waited for the shouting to start.
Adam looked up at Kris, open and vulnerable. “Yes,” he said.
“I should hate you,” Kris told him.
“I know,” Adam said.
Kris waited to feel disgust. Everything inside him, everything he was, should have despised what he had witnessed. All he felt though was empathy.
“You hate it,” he said softly, fingers stroking pale skin.
“Yes,” Adam said and waited.
Kris looked at Alli, watched her response. She stood undecided for a moment and then asked, “Can anyone feed you or only Jared?”
The question startled them all and Adam blinked. “Blood is blood,” he said. “I only feed off Jared’s energy but blood is a physical thing that pretty much anyone could supply.”
Allison nodded. “Okay then, good to know.” She looked at Jensen and said, “I guess we’re all going to be take-out at some stage, right?”
Adam reached out and pulled her into him, hugged her tight and said, “I bless the day I met you, Healer.”
Alli shoved him away, blushing and annoyed. “Whatever, man, I’m a healer, but I’m a pragmatist. You’ll need to feed, there are several of us who can help you. I’ve seen your control.” Her eyes were dark. “I mean, I’m never going to throw myself at you and shout ‘eat me’, but you need to know that you have options.”
“Yeah,” Jared grinned, “your own walking á la carte menu.” Jensen decided to high-five him later for that one. The glares from mage, healer and empath were reward enough.
“So this rogue, how come he can feed off the energy of other humans?” Jensen asked when they were all sitting in the rec room. “I mean, from what you and Jared had explained, the mage-warrior bond is what is needed to sustain you.”
Adam’s eyes were shadowed and he lounged back into the sofa all loose limbs and pale skin. “It’s not that I can’t feed off the energy of other humans, it’s that I choose not to.”
Jared was perched on the sofa arm and touched Adam’s shoulder. “The warrior line was bred to be the yin to the mage line’s yang,” he explained. “We’re strong in ways that the human line is not.”
“That’s why the mage-warrior bond is the best,” Allison nodded thoughtfully, “because you’re bred strong to feed the mages and humans aren’t.”
Adam nodded. “Yes, mages can feed off humans but humans are not strong enough to feed us for long. Warriors are bred strong in body and energy so that they can sustain the mage they are paired with. The rogue has basically ripped out the souls of those he has fed from.”
Jensen looked sick. “Oh God,” he said and dropped his head down. “That’s worse than death.”
“Yeah,” Jared said, his face solemn, “which is why we have to stop him.”
Kris had been silent during this exchange and then he put a hand on Adam’s thigh. “You know him.” He sounded utterly certain and Adam froze beneath that hand.
“How do you..?” he asked and then gave a short bark of laughter, nothing happy in the sound. “The bond-mate link, of course.” Adam shook his head. “I have no secrets from you now.”
“No,” Kris said quietly, “there are no secrets.”
Kris heard the comm beep and Jen went to answer it, the rest of the team trailing after him.
“This discussion is not over,” Kris told Adam who had managed to compose his face once more into that almost bored expression of nothingness.
Jensen opened the comm and grinned at Anoop Desai, information technician for the San Angeles police department. “Hey man,” he greeted.
Anoop’s dark eyes twinkled. “Hey yourself, Jen.” He leaned in, “I hear you’ve acquired yourselves a couple of new team mates.”
Jensen nodded. “Yeah, they’ve given us a mage and a warrior. They’ve been making themselves at home.”
Anoop nodded. “Adam is the best mage in known history and Jared is a freak of nature - scored the highest in every combat test ever run. They both have a few issues with authority though.”
Kris smiled to himself. Trust Anoop to break things down to the lowest common denominator. Jensen would appreciate the matter-of-fact comments. Jen and Anoop had become friends when Kris had introduced them.
Kris and Anoop had been cadet mates, going through the academy together until their skill sets sent them in very different directions. Anoop was one of the few police officers who thought that LG-99 was worth anything other than freak value.
“Hey Kris,” Anoop waved and Kris saluted him. Anoop was moving up the ranks at a brisk pace, a combination of intelligence and street smarts giving him a distinct advantage over others his age.
“Hey bro,” Kris said and leaned into the cool solace of Adam’s big body. He saw Anoop’s sharp eyes take it in and wondered what he thought.
“What’s the reason for the call, Desai?” Jensen asked.
“Megan Joy and Matt Giraud are on their way over to you,” Anoop said, suddenly all business. “Commander Beaver has assigned them to your unit for the next month.”
“What?” Allison almost shouted in protest. “We don’t need any more ‘help’ from the San Angeles PD.”
Jensen put a hand on her shoulder. “Alli,” he said and she subsided. He stared at Anoop. “Why?” he asked.
Anoop sighed. “Whatever you guys did yesterday has set some alarm bells ringing.” He grinned. “Twenty arrests, nineteen confirmed identities by the victims and fourteen exceptional leads in other cases. Good going for a day’s work, brother.”
Jen allowed himself a small smile. “Thanks,” he said and then asked again, “Why?”
Anoop shrugged. “I just pass on the intel, Jen; I don’t ask the questions.” Jensen snorted. “Matt and Megan are cool,” he said, “they’re not prejudiced.”
“Yeah,” Jen said, voice suddenly weary. “I’ll talk to you soon.” He dropped the call and turned to his team. “So I guess we’re getting a couple of babysitters,” he said.
“Fuck that,” Allison spat and stomped into the kitchen to order breakfast.
Kris looked at Adam. “It’s because of you, isn’t it?” he asked and Adam looked a little uncomfortable.
“They probably feel that they need to protect their precious asset from the freaks,” Alli yelled from the kitchen, banging things around in frustration.
“Is there something more that we need to know about you?” Jen asked and Kris felt Adam stiffen.
“Nothing of importance,” Adam said and Jen nodded.
“Okay then,” Jensen said and headed to the kitchen.
“I hate this,” Adam said suddenly and he spun around and stalked into this room. Kris debated as to which direction he should go and then followed Adam.
Adam was looking out of the bedroom window. LG-99 headquarters were out in the Santa Ana Mountains, miles away from any kind of urban civilization. Kris came up next to Adam and looked out over the valley.
“I wish I couldn’t feel what you’re feeling now,” Kris’ voice was low and furious. “Do they know what they’re doing to you by not trusting you to handle yourself?”
Adam shrugged, struggling for nonchalance but Kris could feel the old sadness in his heart. “I’m an asset, always have been just a weapon to them. The PD obviously feels they need to secure that asset.”
“You’re still a person, with feelings,” Kris said, voice tight.
“Not according to them,” Adam told him and put a careful hand on Kris’ arm. “To them, I’m an expensive weapon. I’m used to being shadowed by the PD.” He sounded calm but the emotions roiling beneath the surface were anything but.
“I prefer to think of you as gifted,” Kris said, trying to reassure him and maintain some semblance of control at the same time.
Adam dropped his forehead against the glass and asked, “And you’re not running away screaming yet?”
Kris moved in closer and rubbed his hand in soothing circles on Adam’s back. “Not yet,” he said and let Adam hear the certainty in his voice.
Adam turned then, turned into Kris so that they were pressed together, body to body. Adam’s robes were like living things, wrapping around Kris in waves of black silk. “May I touch your mind?” he asked and Kris nodded.
Adam’s hands came up and cupped Kris’ face. “I wish you could see how gorgeous you are.” His voice was soft and reverent and Kris felt like a precious thing beneath Adam’s long fingers.
The mind-touch was almost anti-climatic as Adam tapped softly against Kris’ mental barriers. For the first time in his life, Kris let them fall wide open and Adam’s consciousness raced in. It was fire and heat and Kris let the cool ice of his mind meet Adam’s in a soft conflagration.
He could feel Adam in every cell of his body; his presence as large and imposing within Kris’ psyche as his physical being. But he could also feel the tenderness, the care as Adam picked his way through Kris’ mind. Suddenly, Adam touched the neurons of the striatum that housed his pleasure centre and Kris could understand how someone could die from desire.
He felt his muscles lock and he arched up into Adam, his own consciousness racing to find the same spot within Adam. Dimly, he felt Adam’s arms go around him, and his head fell forward, dropping into the curve of Adam’s shoulder.
The burn of the mind-mating as well as the warmth of Adam’s body pressed close to him made him shake. Frantically, he poured his own essence into the mating, tried to cool the inferno but the orgasm hit him like an explosion. He could see every atom of his being expand out in slow motion, separate and then contract back into his body, remade and something entirely new.
“Kris,” Adam sounded as though he’d been screaming. “God, Kris,” and his arms were like a vice around him.
“Woah,” Kris said into Adam’s shoulder, trying to figure out if he was still capable of thought.
“That was the most intense…” Adam trailed off as the door chimed and then slid open.
Jared smiled at them in apology. “Sorry guys, but the babysitters have arrived.” He turned away quickly and Kris lifted his face to look at Adam.
“Mind-mating is not supposed to be like that,” he said.
Adam nodded. “You are correct. But I think we might be rewriting the rules.”
Kris grinned. He liked the idea of that. “Come on, let’s go and play nice with the real people.” Adam’s chuckle was sufficient reward.
“Perhaps we should attempt to clean ourselves up a little first?” Adam suggested and Kris flushed.
“Yeah, maybe we should,” Kris agreed with a rueful grin and headed for the bathroom, Adam on his heels.
Matt Giraud and Megan Joy didn’t look like they were any happier being here than LG-99 felt.
“Commander Beaver gave us orders to assist where necessary,” Megan said with a near pout. She handed Jensen an info-pad and he keyed in his password.
The message was brief and surprising. Commander Beaver was a grizzled man who looked anything between forty and sixty years. He stared at the camera and said, “Captain Ackles, congratulations on the past twenty four hours. You and your team have achieved some remarkable results.”
Jensen shook his head. This was unusual behaviour at best. Most times the top dogs preferred to pretend that LG-99 didn’t exist.
Commander Beaver continued. “That being said, looking through the reports from your efforts today, it appears that there is a pattern that you have identified. Mage Lambert’s comment on the possibility of a rogue mage has made us all a little nervous. Detectives Joy and Giraud are two of my finest officers and I have sent them to assist in building a profile of this mage.”
Commander Beaver’s face was serious. “If, as you have surmised, this mage has already managed to drain several humans of psychic energy then the next logical step would be physical sustenance.”
His mouth tightened and he said, “I need your team to focus all your energies on catching this monster. Use Joy and Giraud to do your footwork if need be. They both have family members who have ‘abilities’ so they are quite comfortable with being around folks like your team members.”
Alli made a snorting sound and Kris shushed her.
Commander Beaver was ending his transmission, “I realise that you’ve not had the easiest time over the past year. Human nature is such that we don’t like what we can’t see but the success rate your team has enjoyed speaks for itself. LG-99 is a valuable squad within the San Angeles Police Department and I want everyone to understand that you have my endorsement and vote of confidence.”
Jensen felt a little light headed and Jim Beaver leaned in closer to the camera. “Find this fucker, Ackles. Lives depend on you and yours. Beaver, out.”
There was a brief silence once the info-pad went dark again and then Jared said, “So I guess you aren’t babysitters after all?”
The tension broke and Megan Joy held out her hand to Allison. “Megan Joy, First Class Detective and daughter of a level four empath.”
Alli grinned at her and shook her hand. “Allison Iraheta, Level Five Healer and it’s good to meet you.”
Matt saluted Jensen and then held out his hand as well. “Matt Giraud, First Class Detective and brother to a level four telekinetic.”
Jen nodded and shook his hand. “Jensen Ackles, Captain First Class and absolutely no psychic abilities or connections whatsoever.” He grinned ruefully. “I guess they figured out they needed someone normal to be in charge of this lot.” He indicated the rest of the team and performed the introductions.
He watched Matt and Megan’s sharp eyes take in everything as they greeted everyone.
Matt looked at Jensen again and asked, “How about you fill us in on this rogue mage that has everyone from the cleaner to the commander freaking out?” His lazy accent belied the bright intelligence shining out of his eyes.
Jen led everyone to the war room and then Kris and Adam started setting up an info-wall. They placed all the cases of rape, indecent assault and psychic energy draining they had managed to sort earlier, up next to each other, going back several months and then Jen headed to the transport chute to request the physical evidence from each of the cases they hadn’t worked on yet.
Matt and Megan watched in silence as about thirty unsolved cases took up the entire wall. Megan shook her head. “How come no one has put it together before now?” she asked.
Kris sighed. “He’s been clever. He’s combined the energy feed with several different types of assault so that the major crime has always been the physical attack and the psychic one has sort of stayed below the radar.” He looked over at Adam who was standing in front of the wall, frowning.
“So how did you pick it up?” Matt asked, sounding genuinely curious and more than a little admiring.
Jensen saw Kris’ cheeks go a little pink and Adam’s eyes narrow. A jealous mage could be a dangerous thing so he stepped forward, drawing Matt’s attention to himself. “Kris and Adam managed to put it together. Their combined abilities have already made a difference.”
He saw Adam relax out of the corner of his eye and hid a grin when Kris shuffled a little closer to Adam. “So are you going to tell us why and how you know him?” Kris asked and the room went silent.
Adam stared at the wall of devastation, face drawn with something Jensen could only call sorrow. “I know the mage’s energy; it’s one I’m intimately familiar with.”
Kris put a hand in the small of Adam’s back, gentle reassurance and Adam looked down at him. “Who is he?” Kris asked and Jen could feel the comforting calm of his energy permeate the room.
“He is the first of my line,” Adam said roughly. “He is the Mage Prime.”
“Oh my God,” Jensen felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. “Are you trying to tell us..?”
Adam turned to look at them and his eyes were miserable. “Yes,” he said, “your serial rapist is Ryan Seacrest.”
Jensen tried to think about what he knew of the Mage Prime. Seacrest had been born some four hundred plus years ago. “Ryan Seacrest disappeared more than a hundred years ago,” he said.
“Disappeared does not mean dead,” Kris pointed out.
Jensen watched Adam’s face and then something just clicked. “You’re second generation mage?” he asked Adam.
Adam nodded. “I am. Ryan was my immediate genetic provider. He knows me as well as I know him. We spent many years together building the mage line.”
Kris asked, “So that’s how you can shield me from him?”
Adam nodded again. “He knows that it’s me with you. Mages have the ability to recognize one another’s energy. And we each have very specific ways of spell-casting.” He went to a chair and sat down, shoulders drooping a little. “He recognized my signature just as I recognized his.”
Jared had been silent but then he asked, “Didn’t Seacrest create the warrior line as well?”
Jensen looked at him. “Yeah, I think I remember something about that from my history lessons.”
“Mage Prime Seacrest created the healer line too,” Alli said, looking a little ill.
“Ryan created all of the super-human lines,” Adam said with a heavy sigh. “His genetics run through all of us by now.”
“Not me,” Jensen objected. “I’ve got human blood in my veins.”
Adam looked at him with a small smile. “I can virtually guarantee that somewhere in your family genetics there is someone born with a little ‘extra’ in their code.”
“Does that give him an advantage?” Matt looked thoughtfully at the board, eyes scanning the case files.
Adam shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I doubt it.” He looked at Kris. “He would want you because you are just a little powerhouse of energy that he could tap for generations.” Kris scowled. “Jared would be useful but I don’t think he’s the sort who would be polite. He’d probably drink Jared dry and look for the next fix.”
“That’s disgusting,” Megan said and Alli stuck her head between her legs. Kris went to her and rested his hand on her back, soothing her.
“So, how do we stop the most powerful mage in human history?” Jensen asked, mind on the case and looking for a solution.
“The same way I told you yesterday,” Adam told him, “The only way to stop him is to kill him.”
“Just fucking great,” Jared muttered in disgust. “How do we do that?”
“Draw him out,” Jensen said slowly, “make him come to us.”
Matt looked at him, face thoughtful. “You mean like, set a trap?” he asked.
Jen nodded. Adam was already shaking his head. “No, he will know.”
“He’ll suspect,” Jensen corrected him, looking at the board of criminal activity that made him feel physically ill. “But he won’t know exactly, until it’s too late.”
“How?” Kris asked and Jensen watched him watching Adam.
“By using me,” Adam said and his mouth curved in a grim smile. “He won’t be able to resist taking a shot at me.”
Kris shook his head. “Hell no!” he insisted. “It’s my neck on the line too!” and Jensen wondered whether it would accomplish anything if he reminded Kris just who the team captain was. He doubted it.
“I’ll do it,” Adam told Jensen and then smiled at Kris. “Don’t worry, Empath. You won’t get rid of me that easily.”
Jen nodded at Adam. “Good, but I think we should bait the trap even more attractively.” He gazed around the room. “We have a regular smorgasbord for a mage who wants to feed off energy.”
Alli lifted her head and squared her shoulders. “I’m okay,” she said firmly, “I can do this.”
“Alli, no,” Kris protested and the bubble of calm he’d been trying to keep control over popped and messy fear rolled through the room, punching through them.
Jen felt his heart pounding, sudden terror engulfing him and he struggled to fight it. “Kris! Get yourself in hand, you moron. You’re fucking us all up!” he snapped.
Adam went to Kris whose hand was still on Allison’s back. She was sucking in air like she was drowning and Adam pulled Kris’ hand off her. “Kris,” his voice was low, commanding, “look at me.”
Kris turned frightened eyes to Adam and Jensen saw the arc of silver energy burst out of Adam and wrap around Kris like a heater blanket. The cool terror that had been running rampant through all of them started warming them up from the inside. Jen felt his heart slow, calm down and a soothing heat filled him up.
“Fire and fucking Ice,” Jared mumbled beside him and Jensen turned to look at him. His hazel eyes were still a little wild and his breathing a bit fast. “Kris, you need to control yourself. You know it infects us all when you lose your shit.”
Jen reached out and put a hand on Jared’s shoulder. “Deep breaths, man,” he said. “Ice is a force of nature.”
Jared sort of leaned heavily against Jensen, chest still heaving. “Not even funny, dude,” he wheezed.
Jen decided that he quite liked the solid warmth of Jared’s big body pressed against him. He allowed his arm to drop off Jared’s shoulder to his waist and his mouth curled in a grin when Jared moved in closer. “Feeling better?” he asked and Jared’s smile was huge and his dimples dug deep into his cheeks.
“Much,” Jared said and he dropped a big arm across Jen’s shoulders, obviously needing the extra support.
Kris burrowed into Adam’s embrace, shuddering. “I don’t want you to do this,” he said and felt the warmth of Adam’s body easing his fears.
“I must,” Adam said. “It is my duty, my responsibility.” Kris felt the chill of the room fading, filling with gentle heat.
Kris wanted to shout at Adam. “It isn’t,” he insisted. “Besides, I’m really not happy about you putting our lives on the line.”
“I was bred to this,” Adam told him, “but it is my calling as well. I have to stop him.” He looked at Kris, eyes worried. “I will beat him,” he said. “I will not allow you to die.”
Jared walked over to them. “You’re probably the only one who has the power to do it as well,” he admitted.
“This is true,” Adam sounded certain. “We need to draw him out somehow.”
“So, we need to bait a trap for the strongest mage in history?” Matt’s question was only slightly sarcastic.
“Yes,” Adam said and Kris couldn’t stop the grin. The sarcasm had seemingly escaped Adam.
“Any ideas, mage?” Jen asked, tone biting.
“Actually…” Adam started and Kris shook a little with laughter. “What?” Adam asked.
“You do realise that Jen is actually the team captain?” Kris couldn’t help smiling as he looked up at Adam.
“Yes,” Adam nodded, “and?”
“What Kris is trying to say is that I am the one who actually makes the hard choices,” Jensen muttered and Alli made a little snorting sound. Jen threw his hands up in the air. “God, why don’t I just let anarchy reign?” he asked no one in particular.
“Interesting method you have of keeping your troops in line,” Megan murmured and Kris almost laughed out loud at the narrow-eyed glare Jen sent her.
“If you’re all quite done questioning my authority…” Jensen began. He looked at Adam. “So, how do we get Seacrest to come after you?” he asked bluntly.
Adam moved away from Kris, the loss of his body heat leaving Kris shivering a little. “Ryan hated that warriors volunteered to be paired with me.” He looked at Jared. “He’ll want a taste of you,” he said.
Jared’s chin jutted out. “Let him come,” he dared.
“What about Kris?” Jen asked, “Is he safe?”
“No,” Adam admitted. “I think Ryan will actually focus on Kris.” He turned bright blue eyes to Kris. “He picked up on my attachment to you,” he told him.
Kris shrugged. “In the words of the warrior over there, ‘let him come’.”
Matt was staring up at the crime wall. “He prefers women,” he mused, “and the men he’s attacked have all been slight, small.”
Megan stood next to him, eyes flickering over the statistics. “He’s moved in a very small area if you consider how long he’s been dong it,” she said and Jensen walked over to her.
“The San Angeles area isn’t exactly small,” he pointed out.
“No,” Matt admitted, “but if you look at the first case, it’s about forty years old.”
“And he’s been careful not to attack in the same general area for at least ten years,” Megan added.
Jared came up behind Jensen. “So I’m guessing that I’m probably safe, what with me not being female or small?”
Jen tilted his head back and looked up into Jared’s eyes. Kris could almost see the attraction arcing between them. “Don’t worry, man, I’ll protect you,” Jen assured him and gave a little jump when Jared poked a finger into his ribs.
“My hero,” he said dryly.
“So, from these deductions, Allison, Megan and Kris are the most likely targets,” Matt said and his tone was matter-of-fact.
“He won’t touch Megan unless she’s the only option available to him,” Adam said. “He’ll go for the power first.”
“So Allison and Kris then,” Jen nodded.
“Yes,” Adam said. “And I believe that he is most likely to approach Kris first.”
“Approach?” Jen asked.
“He won’t attack right off the bat. He’ll try to make friends with his victim.” Adam sounded sure.
“Hey,” Kris protested, jabbing Adam’s arm, “I’m right here.”
Adam allowed himself a small smile. “I know, but your commander needs to know the modus operandi.”
Matt was nodding as well. “Adam’s our best source of information on this guy. The more we know, the more prepared we are.”
Jensen shot Kris a rueful grin. “Outnumbered here, Ice,” he said.
Kris glowered at the room in general. “Why don’t you just paint a target on me?”
Adam stared at him. “That won’t be necessary, Ryan doesn’t use sight to...” he trailed off and looked around as everyone started laughing. “What?” he asked, bewildered.
“It was just a figure of speech, Mage,” Matt told him. “Kris didn’t mean it literally.”
Adam frowned. “I will have to remember not to take everything so seriously,” he admitted.
“Well, you have a whole bunch of us now who will remind you,” Alli told him.
“About that trap,” Jensen turned their attention back to the job at hand. “Any ideas on how to go about it?” he looked at Adam.
“I will have to let him see that Kris is important to me,” Adam said slowly. “He will not be able to resist trying to take something that he thinks belongs to me.”
“Good thing you added that ‘thinks’ to that sentence,” Kris said and Adam’s mouth curled in a smile.
“Your independence is part of your charm, beloved,” he said and the formal endearment made everyone stare.
“Beloved?” Megan was the first to ask.
“It seems like our mage and empath have developed an unexpected bond,” Jensen told her and Kris could see from his face that there were no hard feelings.
“What sort of bond?” Matt asked. He didn’t sound happy.
“He is my bond-mate,” Kris said, matter-of-fact, and Adam beamed at him.
“That’s a term I haven’t heard in a while,” Megan said and looked between Adam and Kris. “Yes, it’s almost visible, that bond.”
“What?” Matt asked.
Megan grinned. “Your head is too full of facts to see the ‘woo-woo’ that I can,” she told him.
Matt snorted. “Whatever,” he muttered, “your ‘woo-woo’ keeps getting us into trouble.”
“I thought you didn’t have any line powers?” Jen asked.
Megan shook her head. “I don’t, not really. Just sometimes I get feelings about things and they usually pan out.”
“That sounds like you might be a level one pre-cog,” Adam told her.
Megan shrugged. “Maybe, but I don’t want to be classified, it would make being a cop too hard.” She looked at them apologetically. “No insult intended,” she added.
“None taken,” Alli assured her.
“Perhaps we should move out of the LG-99 house,” Kris suggested. “Make it easier for him to come after me.”
“Under no circumstances!” Jen glared at him and Kris felt a warmth spread through him. He wasn’t sure if it was Adam’s approval or his own pleasure at seeing how Jensen valued him.
“Ryan will have no problem getting in here,” Adam said quietly.
Jared frowned. “So how does he do it?” he asked.
Adam started walking around the room, hands moving in graceful circles as he explained. “Ryan uses the shadows to spell. Each mage has an affinity to a force. Mine is to the light, Ryan’s to the dark. Others use the air, the earth, the stones. We’ve learned to use the elements to cast spells.”
Kris watched him closely. “So you can astral travel on a sunbeam?” he asked.
Adam nodded. “And Ryan can do the same on the shadows cast by that same light.”
“Well fuck,” Jared muttered.
“What he said,” Matt agreed, jabbing his thumb at Jared.
“So if we want to let him in, we turn out the lights?” Megan looked at Adam in question.
“Yes, basically,” Adam smiled at her and she grinned back.
“Okay, so we keep the lights burning until we’ve got everything in place.” Jensen was at the comm and calling Commander Beaver.
“Ackles?” The commander was outside somewhere, the comm picture bobbing up and down as he walked.
“We have identified the perp, sir,” Jensen told him and motioned to Adam to come forward.
“Mage Lambert,” Beaver greeted, inclining his head.
“Sir,” Adam acknowledged.
“Finding your feet okay with your new team?” Beaver’s eyes were bright with inquiry.
“I am,” Adam smiled. “It feels as though I have known them for many years.”
“Excellent,” the commander looked back at Jensen and then the picture bobbled as he stumbled. “Sorry about that, I’m on my way to the mayor’s office for a meeting. I wanted to give her a head’s up on the investigation.”
“Well sir,” Jen began, “Adam was able to identify the mage by his spell signature.”
“And who is it?” Beaver asked and muttered a curse as someone bumped into him.
“Mage Prime Seacrest,” Adam told him without preamble.
“Well fuck,” Commander Beaver muttered and the comm went dark.
“I’m going to lie down,” Kris looked tired and Jen took a step towards him. Adam was there first though, one big arm around Kris’ shoulders and beautiful face full of concern.
“You have tried to do too much today,” Adam scolded gently and Kris knew that he had just acquired a new caregiver in the place of Jensen.
“You did as much as me, you should lie down too,” Kris told Adam and he blushed a little at Adam’s smile.
“I will if I may lie with you,” Adam raised an eyebrow and Kris nodded.
“We’ll just hang out here then,” Jensen told them, only mildly sarcastic. “Making plans to catch the evil dude while you two have an afternoon nap.”
“Sure,” Kris said, waving a hand, “you do that.” He knew that Jen was glaring at them as they headed for Adam’s room.
“He’s not very happy with us,” Adam noted.
Kris shrugged. “That’s just his way. He knows that I can only work for a few hours a day.” He pulled the door closed behind them. “He’s pretty protective.”
“They all are,” Adam told him, shucking his outer robes and standing next to the bed in a soft black sleeveless shirt and pants. “I like that you care so much about one another.”
Kris pulled off his shirt and pants and clambered onto the bed in a vest and boxers. “We’ve been through a lot together; we’ve learned to trust each other.”
Adam climbed in the other side, pulling the sheet over them. “I hope that Jared and I can be part of that trust.” He sounded almost wistful and Kris scooted over to him so that he was pressed up against Adam’s side.
“You’ve made a pretty good start,” he said and dropped his head into the curve of Adam’s shoulder. “Now sleep,” he ordered and sent a brief pulse of command at Adam who chuckled.
“Yes, beloved,” Adam’s voice was a soft rumble beneath Kris’ ear as he tumbled into the shelter of sleep. Adam’s shield was like being wrapped in a cloud of care. Kris’ last thought was that he could very easily get used to this.
“They’re not just going to sleep are they?” Alli demanded when the door closed.
“Lalalalala!” Jared stuck his fingers in his ears. “I don’t want to know!”
Jensen stifled a laugh and he went over to Matt and Megan who were looking through the case files. “Found anything we can use?” he asked.
“Well, I’m trying to put the cases into areas and decades.” Megan pointed to a stack. “That pile over there are the oldest, they’re about forty years old.”
“He was working in the San Angeles area then,” Matt interjected and then pointed to a second pile. “He moved to Texarcana about thirty years ago, worked through the provinces for about ten years.”
Megan carried on, tapping a finger on a third stack. “These are between ten and twenty years ago,” she said and grimaced. “His hunting grounds moved to Canalaska and he had a real big area to play in.”
Jared picked up the fourth pile. “I assume this is the last ten years?” he asked.
Matt nodded. “Yeah, he moved down through the North and down into the Midwest and finally back to San Angeles about a year ago. I guess he’s been living all over the continental United States. He’s probably used an alias in at least eighty percent of these places.”
“Why did he come back?” Jensen was trying to understand the movement. “If he’d gone to Eurasia or Africa, his trail would have gone cold and no one would have connected the crimes.”
“Something brought him back?” Jared stood next to him.
“Or someone?” Alli suggested.
“When did he come back into our area?” Jensen asked and Matt paged through the files.
“The attacks started about a year ago,” he said and handed a file to Jen. “This was the first one.”
Jared read over Jensen’s shoulder, “It says it was in the Santa Ana, Silverado Canyon region. The victim was a thirty -two year old woman, Bregita Williams.”
“She spent six months in deep trauma therapy,” Jensen felt his heart twist a little. “She’s okay now though, they managed to block most of the memories.”
“What does she remember?” Matt asked and went to the console to call up the hypnotherapy session. It was standard operating procedure that a trauma victim was taken into deep hypnosis, questioned, recorded and then mind-washed. The hypnosis session was usually successful.
“Why did she need six months?” Megan asked and joined Matt at the console.
Jared grabbed the file from Jensen and scanned it quickly. Jen raised an eyebrow. “You’re reading it that fast?” he asked.
Jared looked up at him. “I’m not just a pretty face,” he reproved with a grin and Jensen found himself answering the smile. Oh God, this was not good.
“If we could interrupt the massively uncomfortable flirting session,” Alli said and Jensen scowled at her. “Matt has pulled up her hypno-interview.”
“I am going to kill you and hide the body so that no one ever finds it,” Jen gritted.
Allison sent him a sunny smile. “Try and catch me first, boss,” she said and ducked behind Matt with a squeak when Jen took a menacing step towards her.
“Do you always mess around like this?” Matt sounded curious, not critical, so Jensen decided to take him at face value.
“Our job sucks ass most of the time,” he said as he and Jared joined them at the console. “With Kris and Alli, we don’t really go out much, they find being around big groups of people too stressful and draining. So, most of our time is spent here, in the LG-99 compound.”
He looked at Megan whose eyes had gone soft with compassion. “Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love being with these guys twenty-four seven, three sixty-five but the job takes its toll.”
He shrugged. “Sometimes, the only way to deal with the tough times is to make jokes and goof off.”
He felt a big hand settle low on his back and didn’t turn around, knowing it was Jared. “Well, at least there are a few more of us now. We can take turns in pissing you off,” Jared drawled.
Jen heard the smile in Jared’s voice and he stepped back - a tiny, almost imperceptible movement, but it brought him flush against the big warm heat of Jared’s body. Jay didn’t move away and Jen stayed.
“Ready?” Matt asked and looked at Jensen who nodded. “They recorded this at the six month mark. They weren’t getting anywhere so they got what they could and washed her mind.” He pressed ‘play’.
Hypno-interview of subject Bregita Williams , age 32
The victim was a pretty woman with dark hair and dark eyes and the tears that kept a constant trail down her cheeks made Jensen wince in sympathy.
The therapist was good; he took her under in about half a minute.
“State your name for the record please.” The therapist kept his voice level.
“Bregita Williams.” Her voice was shaky.
“Bregita, I am going to ask you to take me through the events of the night of October 12, 2423, alright? You are safe: he isn’t here, but I need to get your statement for the record. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she sounded young and small and Alli made a small sound next to him. Jen wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in. The big hand at his back tensed a little and Jared moved slightly closer, bracketing them with his body.
“Bregita, tell me what happened as you remember it. Remember, you’re completely safe here.”
“I was asleep,” she began, “and my dog woke me up. He was barking but when I opened my eyes, I couldn’t see anything. I reached over to turn on the lamp by my bed,” she stopped, visibly shaking. “The switch wouldn’t work and the room stayed dark. Not even my voice command worked. It was like the house had shut down.”
“What could you sense, Bregita?”
“There was someone there. He held me down but he didn’t use his hands.”
“You say ‘he’. How did you know it was a man?”
“He spoke to me.”
“What did he say?”
“He said ‘Thank you’.”
“Can you remember anything else, Bregita? Even the smallest thing may be significant.”
“He touched my forehead and it felt like he was digging in and pulling out my brain.”
“And when he assaulted you?”
“He didn’t hurt me; just told me not to fight him and that I would be fine.”
“That’s consistent with the medical report,” Megan said, face white. “There was not bruising or tearing.” Matt rested a hand on her shoulder briefly and paused the recording.
“Rape is still rape if there is no consent.” Kris spoke from behind them and they turned to look at him. Adam stood behind Kris like some sort of guardian.
“That wasn’t a long rest,” Jensen noted.
Kris smiled at him. “Power nap,” he told him and Adam made a little sound that sounded suspiciously like a giggle.
Jen shook his head. “Thank you for sharing,” he said, voice dripping with irony. “Matt, play the rest of the interview please.”
Bregita was still shaking and white but her eye were blank and unfocused. “He was kind.”
“He made her say that,” Adam’s voice was a low growl.
“How did his skin feel? Was his hair coarse or fine? Did he feel clean-shaven?” The therapist rattled off the questions but it was obvious to all of them that she wasn’t going to be able to give anything more.
“I can’t…I don’t…Please.” The small plea made Jensen wince.
“Turn it off,” he told Matt, who obeyed.
“So tell us, Adam - how do we catch this fucker?” Jen looked at Adam and waited.
“I’m going to draw him here, by letting the mage community know that I have found my bond-mate,” Adam’s tone was level. “I haven’t been mated yet so that will rouse attention. Also, Ryan had issues with my relationship with Simon Cowell, the scientist who spliced the genes that created the mage line.”
“Jealousy?” Jen asked and Adam smiled, a hard, bitter smile that was unlike any Kris had ever seen on Adam’s face.
“Adam,” Kris started and then fell silent when Adam turned his gaze towards the screen where Bregita’s face was still frozen in fear. “Tell me what I can do to help,” he finished.
Jensen shook his head. “That’s not how things work here, Ice and you know it. We’re a team.” He looked at Adam’s drawn face. “We need more information on Seacrest. How about you start filling us in?”
Adam nodded and they headed for seats around the conference table, Kris sticking close to Adam and Jared staying surprisingly near Jensen. Not that he minded. The warrior’s silent support was comforting to say the least.
Jen could see the strain on Adam’s face. He felt horrible for the guy and wanted to reach out and offer him something, anything. Instead, it was Alli who held out her hand.
“Need a boost, dude?” she asked and Adam’s mouth curved in a wan smile.
“I would appreciate the assistance,” he nodded and took the offered hand. “Don’t try to initiate the contact,” he warned, “I will only take a moment.”
Allison took a shaky breath but her eyes were determined. “That’s okay,” she assured him, “I’m tough.”
Adam’s smile grew wider, more genuine. “I’m sure you are,” he said and then let her go. “Thank you.”
She stared at him. “That’s it?” she asked.
Adam nodded. “That’s it.”
She looked over at Jared. “Not so scary,” she told him.
Jared laughed. “Wait until he’s been in battle and needs more juice than normal. Then it fucking hurts.”
Adam scowled at Jared. “Come on Jay, it was just one time and I was wounded. Are you never going to let me forget?”
Jared shook his head. “No way, boss, it’s my insurance policy. For when you get too cocky.”
Kris laughed as well. “I think he’s gone way past cocky and right into dictator mode,” he told Jay and Adam poked him.
“Hey, you’re supposed to be on my side!” Adam protested.
“Just because you’re my bond-mate, doesn’t mean I’m blind to your faults,” Kris pointed out.
“I’m practically perfect in every way,” Adam said loftily and sighed when they all stared at him. “Definitely too old,” he muttered.
Jen rapped on the table with an impatient hand. “Adam, details on the mage,” he demanded.
Adam grimaced. “Sorry,” and leaned on the table, clasping his hands. “First off, Mage Prime Seacrest is the most powerful mage in living history.” He looked around at the team. “Despite the confidence that the San Angeles PD has in me, I’m not Ryan’s match,” he said bluntly.
“So why do you think you can take him?” Matt asked.
Adam pursed his lips. “I never said that I could defeat him,” Adam corrected Matt, “I said that we would have to kill him to get him to stop.”
Megan frowned. “Isn’t that the same thing?” she asked.
Adam shook his head. “No. I can’t do it alone. I’m going to need help and I guess that’s where you all come in.”
“Tell us about him,” Jensen repeated and Adam took a deep breath.
“Ryan is charming, articulate and highly intelligent. He’s adaptable, cunning and remarkably street-wise.” Adam sounded weary. “If you met him you wouldn’t believe for one moment that he would be capable of one act of violence, let alone the number we’ve attributed to him.”
“So what happened to him?” Jen asked. “What made him the way he is now? Why did he disappear a hundred years ago?”
“When Ryan created the super lines, he became an international superstar,” Adam replied. “The whole world wanted a piece of him and he…” Adam paused, “he kept taking pieces of the world.”
“I don’t understand,” Megan said.
“Mage’s feed off the energy of others,” Kris explained quickly. “It’s how they get to live so long.” He indicated Adam. “Our guy over here is over three hundred years old.” Megan gaped at Adam and Kris continued. “Long story short: the warrior line – Jay - was bred to sustain the mage line – Adam - but in a crunch, a mage can feed off the energy of a normal human like you or Matt.”
“And that’s what Mage Prime Seacrest did?” Matt asked.
Adam nodded. “I don’t think he realised that he was basically sucking them psychically dry, not until it was too late.”
“How come we never heard about this?” Jen demanded.
Adam raised one black eyebrow. “Do you honestly think that mankind’s biggest scientific success would have survived the scandal of its creator being a psychic vampire?”
Jensen glared at him. “How do you know?” he enquired.
Adam stared down at his hands. “Because as a second generation mage, I was pre-programmed to do the exact same thing and when I tried to protest, they had Ryan shut me down.”
“But obviously things changed?” Alli asked, “I mean you have the warriors and there haven’t been any mage related assaults in recent memory, except for the ones we’re looking at now,” she amended.
Adam smiled briefly at her. “Things changed because I and the other second gen mages refused to just take, the way Ryan did.”
Kris put his hand on Adam’s. “You made sure that the rest of humanity wasn’t mage fodder,” he said quietly.
Adam nodded. “Ryan was not happy.”
Jared leaned forward. “But he created us - you, me, Alli, Kris - he created our lines, I don’t understand.”
Adam continued. “By the time mage legislation was put in place, we were fifty years into the second generation, I and several others focused on tweaking the warrior line genetics so that they could be a strong source of energy for us.” He looked at Jared in apology. “It was either that or decimate the human population with our need to take energy.”
Jared waved him off. “Come on, man, I know my purpose. We’re cool.”
Adam shook his head. “You surprise me every day, Jay,” he said with slight smile. Jared flushed a little.
“So I’m guessing that the Mage Prime was not keen on falling in line,” Jensen said, bringing them back to the subject at hand.
“Ryan has the ability to charm the skin right off your back,” Adam said. “But when the mage laws passed and he was restricted to a very small feeding ground, he started causing trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” Megan asked.
“He started messing with the genetic codes of the lines.” Adam looked grim. “It was a catastrophe. He destroyed a generation and it took another fifty years to breed the defects out.”
“That’s why the Anti-Intercourse Act was enforced,” Kris said, feeling ill, and Adam nodded.
“The third generation was responsible for the spread of mutating venereal disease and several immunity deficiency viruses that all but wiped out half of the sexually active population of North America.” Adam’s face was bleak. “It was a century before we recovered.”
“How come we don’t know this?” Jensen demanded.
“The leaders of that time decided it was better that humans stayed ignorant,” Adam told him. “What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.”
“Why did Ryan disappear?” Matt asked.
“Once the evidence of his sabotage became obvious, we, my fellow mages and I, decided to take Ryan down. We wanted to imprison him and have him brought to justice for what he had done.” Adam’s mouth turned down. “I lost many brothers that day.”
Kris squeezed his hand. “So Ryan decided to get out before he was eventually taken out?” he asked.
Adam nodded. “He’s stayed under the radar until now. It seems that he’s roamed the country, committing crimes for almost half a century. Why has he been so reckless this past year?”
“Arrogance?” Jared suggested. “He already thinks he’s God.”
Matt said, “Tired of hiding. He’s done staying in the shadows.”
“He wants everyone to know that they’re vulnerable,” Kris said. “He wants you all to know that he can get to you whenever he wants.”
“That’s why we have to stop him,” Adam said.
“Fucking right we do,” Jensen said and looked around at his team. “Time to set a trap and catch us a bad guy.”
They spent the next week waiting. Kris expected things to happen quickly but Adam shook his head when he grumbled about it.
“Beloved, Ryan isn’t stupid. He knows that we know so he’s going to be careful. All we can do is to make sure the hook is baited enough that he can’t resist.” Adam stroked his hand down Kris’ cheek and Kris let himself lean into the touch.
“I want this to be over,” Kris said.
“I know,” Adam said and pulled Kris close. They were lying on their bed in their room. The rest of the house was quiet.
It still amazed Kris how quickly things had happened with him and Adam - and how quickly it had been accepted by his normally prickly, over-protective teammates.
“So what’s going on with Jay and Jen?” Kris asked, trying to distract himself.
Adam grinned. “That’s an interesting development, isn’t it?”
Kris poked his side. “Stop gloating,” he told him with a smile.
“I’m not,” Adam protested. “It’s just fun watching them dance around each other.”
“Jen is a little skittish, isn’t he?” Kris asked and this time he didn’t bother hiding his grin.
“Jay has been reeling him in since the moment we got here,” Adam told him and Kris snorted a laugh.
“Poor bastard,” he said and pressed his face into Adam’s neck and breathed deep. “You always smell so good,” he whispered.
“That’s the bond-mating,” Adam said, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “It’s all explained with pheromones, and genetic imprinting and it’s very scientific.”
“Hmm,” Kris hummed into the soft skin. “You smell good, that’s all I need to know.”
Adam chuckled and the sound was a warm rumble in Kris’ ear. “Are you ready for the next step in the bond-mating process?” he asked.
Kris lifted his head, immediately suspicious. “What next step?”
“Well, because the bond-mate relationship dates back to pre-AIA times, there is a certain amount of physical activity that needs to occur before the bond is sealed.” Adam was speaking carefully.
“Stop dicking around and tell me what we have to do to seal the deal,” Kris spoke bluntly.
“Well, we have to get a little ‘closer’ to each other,” Adam suited his actions to his words and scooted nearer to Kris so that they were pressed tightly together.
“Oh God,” Kris moaned. “You’re talking about S-E-X aren’t you?”
Adam shook with laughter. “Do you think I’m five? Spelling the word isn’t going to make it go away.”
“Sex is illegal,” Kris pointed out.
“Only if you get caught,” Adam whispered in his ear and Kris shivered a little. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
“This is a bad idea,” Kris told him but tilted his head obligingly so that Adam could nuzzle the spot behind his ear.
“Or it’s a great idea,” Adam pressed a kiss to his jaw and started peppering small kisses along his jaw line.
“Adam,” Kris moaned and Adam rolled them over quickly so that Kris was beneath him.
“I can make it so that there is no chance of disease or infection,” Adam said quietly. “Beloved, I swear to you, it will feel so good.”
Kris lifted his hands so that they bracketed Adam’s intense face. “I believe you,” he insisted, “but I’m afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid,” Adam assured him. “Let’s start with a kiss and work our way towards something a little more…delicious.”
“I like kisses,” Kris confessed and raised his lips so that Adam could bend down and take his mouth.
“I know you do,” Adam said and nibbled at the soft lower lip until Kris opened and let him in. Adam kissed like he did everything else - focused, intense and utterly overwhelming.
Kris felt himself drifting on an ocean of heat and lust. “Adam,” he breathed into Adam’s mouth and he felt cosseted and protected and loved.
“I want to show you what true desire is,” Adam told him and Kris’ body stiffened when he felt Adam’s hand move down his side to the top of his sleep pants.
“I don’t think…” Kris stuttered and Adam kissed him silent.
“Don’t think, beloved - feel,” Adam urged and slipped his hand inside his pants.
Kris felt as though he was being engulfed by fire. It burned hot but didn’t hurt. “Adam!” he exclaimed and Adam thrust his tongue deep into Kris’ mouth and wrapped his fingers around Kris’ cock and the combination of both of those things made Kris arch up and shout.
The sound was lost in the kiss he was sharing with Adam and Kris reached up and put his arms around Adam’s shoulders and just held on. Every thought about sex being illegal or wrong went spinning out into the night as he allowed Adam to play his body like an instrument.
Adam started moving his hand up and down his cock in a slow and agonizing rhythm. Kris twisted into the movement and Adam smiled against his mouth. “That’s right, move with me.”
Kris lifted his hips, pressing his cock deeper into Adam’s fist and Adam obeyed the wordless command. His hand moved faster, stripping Kris’ cock until it swelled hot and hard in Adam’s hand.
Kris didn’t know what to do with his hands so he just held on as Adam whispered filthy, impossible, wonderful promises into his mouth, panting and groaning as he pulled away and pushed his face into the sweaty curve of Kris’ neck.
Kris felt his orgasm hitting, harder and wilder than any mind-mating had ever caused and he arched up and tried to pull away at the same time, Adam’s hand a ruthless machine on his skin. His come splattered his stomach and thighs and Adam’s hand was coated in it. Kris fell back, mouth open, skin burning and body shaking.
“Oh my God,” he gasped. “I’ve been fucking robbed my whole life!”
Adam’s laugh shook him and he rolled away, body taut and face strained.
Kris raised himself on an elbow and looked at him. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Adam shook his head and reached inside his own pants and took himself in hand. Kris wasn’t sure what to do so he watched as Adam started pleasuring himself.
“I’ve always wondered why this wasn’t allowed,” He looked up into Adam’s face and saw that he was staring back at him. He licked his lips and told Adam, “I know it’s not something we should do and yet I’m going to watch what you do, so that I know how to do it next time.”
Adam’s moan made Kris look back down and he reached over and tugged Adam’s pants down his hips. He watched those long fingers moving up and down, saw when they tightened, when they sped up. He watched Adam’s hips stuttering against his own movements and realised that Adam felt the same way. The onset of orgasm was something to run towards and run away from, so powerful, so overwhelming.
He reached out a trembling hand as he saw the first spurts of come and wrapped his hand around Adam’s. The sound Adam made was almost inhuman and he shoved his other hand into his mouth, muffling his shouts as he came. Kris felt the warmth of come and sweat and Adam on his hand and scooted closer.
He rolled onto Adam so that their bodies aligned, almost glued together by their body’s fluids. “You make me feel things, do things, want things,” he murmured and bent down and kissed him.
Adam wrapped his arms around Kris and held him close, almost uncomfortably tight. “I will not lose you,” he assured Kris.
“I won’t be lost,” Kris promised and he dropped into sleep, having broken the law and fallen in love.
“So, when are you going to let me into that thick head of yours?” Jensen turned his head on the pillow and looked into Jared’s enquiring eyes.
“I beg your pardon?” Jen asked stiffly, heart pounding.
“It’s been a week, Jen,” Jared’s eyes were warm and the dimples in his cheeks were distracting.
“So?” Jensen sounded defensive. He felt defensive.
“When was the last time you mind-mated with anyone?” Jared raised an eyebrow.
“That’s really none of your business, you know?” Jen tried for firm but his voice came out shaky.
Jared reached out and traced a careful finger across the bow of Jensen’s lips. “It really is,” Jared said and he stroked the finger down the soft skin on Jen’s cheek. “I’ve wanted you from the moment I saw you.”
“Oh,” Jen said and wondered again just when he’d lost control of his team.
“Yeah,” Jared said and he rolled over and pulled out a set of Mind-Mate Modules from the bedside table. “Please?” he asked, offering one of the M3s to Jensen.
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Jay,” Jen tried to protest but he actually just sounded wistful. “I mean, I’m your team commander and things like mind-mating just fuck everything up.”
Jared stared at him, hazel eyes dark with want. “I really, really want to fuck things up,” he told Jensen.
Jen took the M3 from him and watched as Jared put the sensors of his own module on either temple. “Okay,” he agreed and suddenly he just wanted to climb onto Jared and do many, many illegal things to him. “Okay.”
He set his module sensors on his own temples and Jay took his hand. They lay on the bed, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand and pressed the VR controls at the same time.
‘Normals’ like them, with no true psychic power, even those like Jared from a genetically enhanced line, couldn’t just link like Adam and Kris could. They needed the viral boost of the M3s and Jen felt the heat of the pulse hit him hard and fast.
“Oh my God,” he breathed as he felt Jared’s essence surround him, engulf him.
“This is more than…” Jay trailed off and his body arched and tensed and he groaned when Jen sent a tentative mind touch to his pleasure centre. “God, that feels amazing.”
Jen rolled over onto his side and Jared did the same. They were pressed tightly against one another and Jensen wanted to touch Jay. He lifted a hand and placed it behind Jared’s neck, tugged him close until their foreheads met.
“I’ve never…” he started to say and then Jared pushed at his mind and Jen just opened up and let him in. Let him take him and fuck him and just let him do whatever he wanted to him.
They came at the same time, bodies shaking together and Jen felt the warm dampness of Jared’s mouth on his. Unthinking, he kissed him back and the M3s sent another pulse that broke them apart and put them back together as one single being.
“I…” Jared’s eyes were glassy and wide and his mouth was wet and Jen had never felt closer to anyone in his life.
“Yeah,” Jen admitted and Jared carefully disconnected the M3s and set them back on the bedside table. He turned back to Jensen who dropped his head on Jared’s shoulder and curled his arm around Jay’s waist.
“Sleep sweet, Jen,” Jared murmured, his voice a soothing rumble in Jen’s ear.
“Sleep sweet, Jay,” Jensen replied and he was asleep in a heartbeat.
Kris sensed him before he saw him. The shadow at the foot of the bed coalesced and he could see features forming in the dark. He looked over at Adam whose face was slack in sleep.
“Mage Prime Seacrest,” he said and the face took form and Kris saw a wide smile and white teeth and he wondered how someone who looked so normal could be so very far from it.
“Kris Allen, seer, empath and bond-mate of my Adam.” Ryan sounded jovial and Kris wondered why Adam wasn’t awake. “I’m glad we’ll get this chance to talk.”
He looked over at Adam who still slept. “Adam won’t disturb us,” he assured Kris and for the first time Kris felt fear.
“Why are you here?” Kris demanded, “You know we’re going to kill you.”
Ryan smiled again and nodded. “Well, you’ll try.” He made a small movement with his fingers and Kris felt a band of pressure around his chest. It was as though he was being held down and he couldn’t move.
“Adam will kill you if you touch me,” Kris snarled, struggling against his bonds.
“I haven’t decided what to do with you yet,” Ryan admitted. “But I’m sure I’ll think of something.” There was something lacking in his eyes, Kris noted. They were dark and pitiless and Kris imagined that he could see right down into the black depths of his mind. Perhaps it was just the Mage Prime’s lack of a soul.
Ryan made another small movement with his hands and Kris felt his body rising off the bed. He was pulled towards Ryan by an invisible string.
“I won’t submit,” he warned and Ryan smiled.
“I look forward to the battle,” he said and passed his hand over Kris’ eyes and everything went black.
Jen woke to screaming. He sat up and heard Alli before he saw her. The bedroom door burst open and she stood there, panting.
“He’s gone!” she shouted and Jared sat up beside him.
“Who?” Jen asked urgently.
“Kris!” Alli was still at top volume. “It looks like that Mage Prime fucker has taken Kris!”
“What about Adam?” Jay asked.
Alli shook her head. “Something’s wrong,” she told him, “he won’t wake up.”
They were both out of bed by this time and racing out of the room, Allison at their heels. Jared was first into the other room. He went to Adam’s side and shook him. “Adam! Dude! Wake up!”
The mage was obviously under a spell and Jen had no idea how to handle it. Jay seemed to know exactly what to do though. He went to Adam’s closet and pulled out a small black bag. He rummaged around in there for a moment and came up with a crystal.
“I’ve never actually done this before,” he confessed, “maybe you guys should stand back.” Alli and Jen both shook their heads. “Okay then,” Jared took a deep breath and placed the crystal at the base of Adam’s throat.
He put his big hand over the crystal, almost wrapping his fingers around Adam’s neck and said, “I need you to come back to me, Adam.”
Jensen saw the brief flare of light through Jared’s fingers as the crystal powered up. That same white light seemed to start glowing from the pores of Adam’s skin. Suddenly Adam sucked in a breath and surged up on the bed.
“Kris!” he yelled and his eyes opened and blazed black fire.
“Adam,” Jared said and touched his shoulder. The black leeched away until Adam’s eyes were bright blue again.
“Ryan took Kris,” Adam told them.
“We guessed that,” Jensen said, stepping forward to take control of the situation. “Any idea how to get him back?”
Adam swung his legs over the side of the bed and they all turned away when they realised that he was naked. Jen so didn’t want to know. “I know where he went,” Adam told them as he tugged on his usual uniform of shirt, pants and robes.
“How?” Alli asked.
“He told me,” Adam looked at them. “He wants me to come and rescue Kris.”
“Which is why you are not rushing out of here without backup or a plan.” Jared returned Adam’s glare with a steely look. “Not a fucking chance.”
Adam threw up his hands. “Fine. Fuck. We’re wasting valuable time,” he muttered.
“Settle down, Adam,” Jen said firmly. “Kris is family. We’re not going to let anything happen to him.”
The door chime had them all turning to look as Matt and Megan came in.
“What’s wrong?” Megan asked immediately.
“The Mage Prime has taken Kris,” Allison summed up quickly.
“How did he get through you?” Matt raised an eyebrow at Adam.
“He spelled me while I slept.” Adam sounded utterly disgusted and dismayed at himself. “I should have expected that.”
“Adam,” Jared began but Alli interrupted him.
“Don’t be a martyr,” she was brisk, “you needed to sleep and no one guessed he’d have the balls to come here and take Kris while we were all here.”
“I did,” Adam was visibly anguished.
Jen decided that it was enough. “Can I please have everyone focused on the job at hand? You can beat yourselves up about shit later.” He levelled a stern look at Adam. “So he told you where he’s taken Kris?”
Adam nodded, scrubbing at his face. “He’s deep in the Santa Ana mountains,” he told them. “I’ll have to take you there.”
“All of us,” Megan interjected.
Adam sighed. “I don’t want to risk…”
“Shut. The fuck. Up,” Allison glared at him. “We’re a team and we do shit together or we don’t do it at all.” She looked at Jensen who nodded his confirmation. “So how about we work out how to find the Mage Prime, rescue Kris and slay the fucking dragon?” Alli’s eyes were fierce.
“Okay,” Adam agreed and they went into the war room. Adam took them to the map on the wall and pointed to one of the canyons deep in the Santa Ana mountains. “He’s there.”
“How do we get there?” Jen was already thinking that the rogue had found himself a pretty sweet spot.
“We can use one of the PD’s hovers,” Matt suggested and at Jen’s nod, went to the comm to make the call.
“Do we go at night?” Jared was frowning, his eyes looking over the area, seeking out possible traps.
Adam shook his head. “Night is his playground. We need to get there during the day.”
Matt returned. “They’re sending a hover right now.” He allowed himself a small grin. “There were strict instructions not to let Allison pilot it.”
“Hey!” Alli protested. “It was only once and it was only a small dent.”
Jensen gave her a quick hug. “It’s okay, the boys will pilot.”
“Actually,” Megan said, “I’m a certified hover pilot.” Allison gave her a pleased high-five.
“Dude!” she exclaimed.
“When will it be here?” Adam asked Matt.
“It’s on the way,” Matt told him. “Shouldn’t be more than half an hour.”
“I need to get my things together,” Adam spun on his heel and went back to his room.
Jared sighed. “He’s blaming himself.”
“He shouldn’t,” Jensen went to the lock-safe and keyed in his personal ID. “Nobody was expecting that.” He crouched down and pulled out the team’s weapons. They hadn’t been touched since the incident where they had lost Aaron.
“Although I should have been prepared for him acting against us.” Jensen was furious with himself. After losing Aaron, he had made a promise to himself to never let anyone take one of his own from him again. He’d failed. He’d been fucking Jared while his team mate had been taken out from under his nose
He handed the sub-sonic pistol to Allison. She grimaced but quickly did an inspection and then tucked it back into her holster and slung it across her shoulders.
He handed Kris’ pistol to Jared who shook his head. “No, thanks Jen, but I have my own.” He went to their room and returned a minute later holding a cylinder slightly longer than his palm.
“Oh my God,” Matt breathed, “you have a laser sword?” His eyes were lit with envy and desire.
“Never leave home without it,” Jay quipped and spun it in his hand.
Jen pulled out his bull-whip. He hated guns and refused to use them. Fortunately, the razor sharp whip suited his temperament. “You two armed?” he asked Matt and Megan who both nodded and patted their holsters.
Adam came back in, eyes flashing. “Let’s go,” he said.
“Um,” Matt raised a hand. “Waiting for the hover?”
Jen bit his lip. He wanted to laugh but he felt the same sense of anxiety that Adam was experiencing. He put a hand on Adam’s shoulder. “He’s a lot tougher than he looks,” he told him. “He’ll be okay.”
Adam’s expression was bleak. “I hope so,” he muttered. “I wouldn’t be able to live without him; being a bond-mate has certain ‘restrictions’.”
Before Jen could ask exactly what those restrictions were, the chime at the door sent Megan to open it. The police officer saluted smartly and handed her the hover controls. “Ma’am,” he said, “she’s primed and ready.”
Megan saluted him back. “Tell Commander Beaver we appreciate it.”
They all followed her out of the door to the waiting craft. The hover was a blend of air and land vehicle, able to move onto water if needed. Hover pilots had to qualify in all three disciplines. Jen felt comfortable when he saw Megan do a quick inspection of the control panel.
“She’s a beauty,” Megan told them, “one of the new models.” She grinned. “This is going to be awesome!”
They all buckled up and Megan took them out and up, setting a course for the valley in the heart of the mountains.
Jensen knew they were all praying that they would get there in time.
When Kris opened his eyes, he couldn’t see anything for a moment. He thought that Ryan had blinded him until he realised that he was just in a very dark room.
He found that his arms and legs were free and he sat up on the small bed and tried to get his bearings.
“Hello?” he called but there was no reply. He stood up and felt his way around the room, walking with one hand on a wall until he got to the door. He pressed against the control pad and it hissed open.
“What the..?” he whispered to himself and walked out of the room into another dark space. His eyes were getting accustomed to the dark and he was able to make out the shapes of various items of furniture. He fumbled around a little more and found a light switch.
When he flipped it, the room was lit by a low wattage bulb. Obviously Ryan was not a fan of bright lights.
“Hello Kris,” the tone was conversational and Kris spun around. Ryan was lounging on a low sofa, robes pooling around him in black silk.
“Mage Prime,” Kris greeted back, reluctantly polite.
“Don’t be so formal, do call me Ryan. Please have a seat,” Mage Prime Seacrest waved towards a chair and Kris took the one furthest from him. The rogue mage smiled. “Welcome to my humble home.”
Kris allowed himself to look around. The place was spacious and airy and apart from the blacked-out windows, looked very comfortable. “You know this isn’t a social call, right?” he asked.
Ryan sighed. “There’s no reason for a lack of manners. It may not have been your first choice to come here, but now that you are, I must at least try to be a good host.”
Kris wanted to ask him if he was crazy. He thought better of it. “Adam’s coming to get me, you know?”
“I know,” Ryan didn’t appear worried. “I made sure your bond-mate knew exactly where I was taking you.”
Kris stared at him. “Then why bother taking me at all?” he asked. “Why didn’t you just get it over with back at our compound?”
Ryan shook his head and the dull light caught flickers of gold in the strands. In another life, Kris would have thought he was a fairly attractive guy. But it wasn’t another life, it was this one, where Mage Prime Seacrest was a soul-sucking rapist.
“I can read your mind, you know?” Ryan told him, almost conversational.
Kris felt the blood drain from his face. “Don’t worry,” The Mage Prime waved off the panic. “I’m not actually going to do much to you before Adam arrives.”
“Define ‘much’,” Kris demanded.
Ryan was suddenly on his feet and Kris pulled towards him like a puppet. “I want a little taste of what Adam’s been enjoying,” he whispered into Kris’ ear and Kris could feel Ryan’s mind shoving against his own mental barriers. The power was like a jack hammer in his brain.
“Stay out of my head, you fucking son of a bitch!” Kris gritted through the pain of the onslaught.
It stopped after a moment and Ryan stepped back and stared down at Kris. “Well, well, well,” he murmured, “Adam has learned some new tricks and he’s been practicing them on you.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Kris demanded and then screamed as Ryan sent a spear of demand into his head. His shields held.
“Goddamn, fucking interfering mother fucking bastard,” Mage Prime Seacrest growled as he tried to find a way in. “All that power, all the strength and the useless fuckwit has locked you up tighter than Alcatraz.”
His hands grasped Kris’ upper arms and Kris looked up into madness. “Never mind, I’ll find a way in,” Ryan told him and Kris felt everything inside him just shut down.
“I’ve implanted a fail-safe in Kris’ mind,” Adam said and Jen glanced at him. They were almost at the valley and Adam had been silent most of the way.
“What kind of fail-safe?” Jared asked. His eyes were worried as he looked at his partner. Adam was pale and shaking. “Boss, you need something, a boost?”
“No,” Adam shook his head. “I’m fine.” He looked at Jen. “If anyone tries to get into Kris’ head, he’s going to close down. You wouldn’t be able to get anything from him, energy, power, information. It will be like he’s dead.”
“Oh you beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing!” Allison threw her arms around Adam from behind and hugged him. “You made sure he was protected even if somehow the Mage Prime got a hold of him.” Adam nodded and hugged her back.
“Clever,” Jensen observed. He felt a little better at the thought.
Adam shrugged. “I wasn’t going to leave him defenceless.” He rolled his shoulders. “But Ryan won’t stop trying to break through.”
“We’d better get there before he does then,” Jay put a hand on Adam’s neck. “Come on, boss, let me give you a little extra.”
Adam shook his head again. “I’m good. We’re going to need your strength.”
Jen looked at him. His face was pale, the freckles standing starkly out on his skin. “Can’t we all just give you a little?” he asked. “Sort of a relay?”
Adam stared. “Seriously? You’d do that?”
Jen shrugged. “As long as I’ve got enough juice to kick the Mage Prime’s ass, I’m good,” he smiled. “Come on, let me share a little of me with you.”
Adam’s mouth curved in a smile. “Thank you,” he said and held out a hand. Jensen placed his there and felt a jolt. “You’re very strong,” Adam told him.
“You’re done?” Jen was surprised.
Adam nodded. “I don’t need anything but skin and I can make the energy transfer in a second.” Allison offered her hand next and Adam repeated the process. They all gave Adam a little energy, apart from Megan who was focused on getting them to the valley.
Jensen was pleased to see the flush of colour on Adam’s cheeks when they settled behind a large outcrop of rocks near the entrance of the valley. “You look better,” he noted.
“I feel great,” Adam admitted and the sun was a ball of golden heat in the sky.
Matt took out the field scanners and looked towards the house that was dropped into the ground in the centre of the valley. “He’s smart. He’s made it so that anyone approaching can be spotted right away.”
“And he sunk the house so that it would be dark all the time,” Adam observed.
Jen looked at Jared. His lover had unsheathed his sword and the laser blade shone red in the light. “Let’s go and take this fucker down,” Jay growled.
“I like the way you think,” Jen stroked a quick hand down Jared’s cheek and turned to Adam. “Does he know we’re here?”
“Yes,” the response was terse and Adam’s gaze was trained on the house buried in the earth.
“Then let’s not keep him waiting.”
They moved towards the house as one unit, aware of their surroundings and each other as though they were decades old combat veterans. Jensen had never been more proud.
The first trap took Matt out. The sand viper moved so fast that Jared only managed to scythe off its head moments after it sank its teeth into Matt’s leg. Jen’s bullwhip took care of the rest of the reptile, slicing it into pieces.
“Go on,” Matt told them, teeth clenched as Alli sent healing energy into the wound in his calf. “I’ll go back to the hover, call for back-up.”
Jen looked at him. “You sure, man?” he asked and Matt nodded, struggling to his feet.
“I can’t go on with you, I’m a liability now.” Megan hugged him and offered to go with him but he shook his head. “Go,” he ordered.
Megan kept looking back until Allison grabbed her arm. “For fuck’s sake, Matt’s the only one who’s actually safe now, concentrate on living through this, okay?”
Megan nodded shakily and they carried on towards the house, keeping as close together as possible.
Adam stopped once and held up his hand. They all obeyed, waited and then watched as Adam knelt down, plunged his hands into the ground and blasted a command. The sand vipers lying in wait went flying and Jen wondered just how many more booby-traps were waiting for them.
Jared pulled Adam’s arm. “Let me go ahead,” he ordered. “We can’t risk you getting hurt.”
Adam just looked at him. “He has Kris,” he said, “and he’s using him to get to me.”
Jay sighed. “Fuck, Adam, I am programmed to protect you. Let me do my job, okay?”
“Don’t get in my way,” Adam warned him and stalked towards the house in the sand.
Jen tapped Jay on the shoulder. “He’s powerful enough to get there, we just need to be with him to back him up.”
Jared glowered. “He’s not thinking clearly. I understand that he wants to get to Kris, but he’s more important than the life of one person.” He looked apologetically at Jen. “I don’t mean to belittle your Kris, but Adam’s special.”
Jen growled, “And he’s Kris’ bond-mate which apparently means if Kris dies then Adam dies!”
“Oh,” Jared said, “yeah, right, that’s not good.”
He spun when he heard the crack of lightning. “Fuck!” he yelled and hurled himself after Adam.
Adam was caught in a spiral of light and electricity and they all stared at it dumbly. The column of electricity wound itself around Adam until it seemed like he was about to be crushed within the lightning. Jared was spinning around Adam, trying to find a way in for him or a way out for Adam.
“How do we get you out of there?” Jen shouted at Adam.
The mage turned to look at him and Jen shivered. Adam’s eyes were black tar and pitiless and for the first time Jen wondered just who was the most dangerous creature out there. He watched Adam reach out and touch the swirling vortex and the cold lightning turned to bright sunlight and coalesced and dissipated around Adam’s fingers.
“God, he’s unreal.” Megan’s observation was whispered in awe.
“Yeah,” Jared’s agreement was proud and he leapt forward and caught Adam as he staggered. “Whoa there, big guy,” he said as he lowered him carefully to the ground. “A little too much exertion, huh?”
“Yeah,” Adam puffed out a breath and Jared calmly sliced at his wrist and held it to Adam’s mouth. Adam glared at him while he drank.
“Don’t be a pussy,” Jared told him. “You know what you need to do.”
“Does he need more?” Alli leaned over Jay’s shoulder and peered down at Adam.
“Nah,” Jared shook his head, confident. “A few drops of my super-juice and he’s good to go.”
Adam’s voice was icy as he pulled away from Jared and got to his feet. “If you don’t mind, ‘he’ would like to get going again.”
“Feisty!” Jay exclaimed and tugged Adam to his feet. “Lead on, oh fearless warrior.” He bowed and waved Adam ahead.
Adam kicked him in the shin as he went past. “Jerk,” he muttered.
“Bitch,” Jared retorted.
Jensen and Alli exchanged amused glances and followed them, with Megan bringing up a cautious rear.
The shriek from Megan when the snapdragon took her down made them all spin around in shock. Alli was the first to reach her, grabbing her wrists as the dragon started pulling her down into the sand. She didn’t have time to draw her gun, she just held on to Megan’s arms, waiting for the cavalry to arrive.
Jared was a blur, laser sword flashing in the sun as he slashed at the tentacles. Jensen sent his bullwhip out, flaying the skin of the beast. The scream of the snapdragon had them all reaching for their ears. Megan dragged herself out of the pit.
“That was…” she panted, “far too close for comfort.” She let Jen haul her to her feet.
“You okay?” he asked, all but ready to send her back to the hover. “We need you to fly us out of here.”
“I’m good,” she assured him. “Let’s stop fucking around here and go and nail this asshole.”
“I like the way you think,” Jay grinned at her, in full warrior mode and Jensen had to hide his laugh when Adam rolled his eyes.
“When you two are quite finished?” he sighed and they followed him onward.
They were about twenty feet from the house when a shield exploded up from the ground between them and their goal.
“Aw, fuck me,” Jay groaned and looked at Adam. “Now what?” he asked.
Adam held out a hand towards the shield and skimmed the energy field. “Oh, he’s clever,” he murmured.
“What?” Jensen demanded.
“It’s a solar shield. He knows that my power is from the light and the sun.” Adam sounded almost admiring.
“So that means you’ll be able to disarm this right?” Jen asked expectantly.
Adam shook his head. “No, the shield will drain my powers.” At their confused expressions, Adam explained. “Think of it like two magnets charged positively. What happens?”
“They repel each other,” Megan replied.
Adam pointed at her. “Exactly.” He pointed back at the shield. “I touch this; I’m going to be sent flying to the other side of the valley, without a parachute.”
They stared at the shield glumly.
“So now what?” Jay enquired and Alli stepped forward, directly into the buzzing and spitting sounds of the shield and held out her hands.
The sheen of the energy field shuddered for a moment and then a hole started forming around Allison’s body, growing until it was large enough for them to climb through.
“I can’t hold it for much longer, assholes, move it!” Alli hissed at them. They moved.
“How the hell did you do that?” Adam demanded once they were all on the other side of the shield. Alli had just dropped her arms and stepped out.
She smirked at him. “You’re not the only one who has a few hidden talents, dude.”
“We’re going to have to talk about that later,” Adam pointed a finger at her.
“Whatever,” she shrugged. “Let’s go get our boy.”
Jen kept staring at Allison. “You’ve been keeping secrets from me,” he said flatly.
Alli shrugged. “Can we fight about this once we’ve got Kris?” she asked.
They stopped at the edge of the property. “So, how do we get in?” Megan looked at Adam.
Adam held out one hand and closed his eyes. “He’s going to open up for us,” he told them a moment later.
At the top of the dome, a hole opened up. Adam walked up to it, the others followed a little more slowly. Jensen stared at his feet. He was trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he was walking on someone’s ceiling.
The stairs curved around and down and Adam again didn’t hesitate. Jen called to him, “Adam, why are you just following his lead? It’s a trap.”
Adam looked up from his position, almost halfway inside the building. “If I want to get Kris back, for now, I’ll have to let him call the shots.”
Somehow, Jensen knew that Adam had a whole other agenda, looking into those angry eyes. He felt a little sorry for the Mage Prime. He nodded and they followed Adam down into the ground.
Kris opened his eyes. Someone was coming. Adam. “They’re here!” Ryan’s triumphant shout brought Kris’ attention to the Mage Prime.
He sat up and wondered just what the fuck had happened. “Who’s here?” he asked, knowing the answer already and his voice sounded as though he’d been screaming for days. He couldn’t move no matter how hard he struggled.
“You bond-mate and his band of merry men, and women.” Ryan was practically gleeful. The doors chimed and slid open and Kris saw Adam, Jensen, Jared, Allison and Megan standing there.
“Come in, come in!” Ryan called and waved them into the house. Adam was the only one who looked remotely comfortable.
Jay had a huge laser sword held at the ready and with a word from Ryan, it went spinning away and into the Mage Prime’s hand.
The rogue smiled, wide and fake and utterly dishonest. “I’ll return it when, or rather, if you leave,” he promised and Adam nodded once to Jared who settled down. Ryan put the sword on the table in front of Kris.
“Let Kris go,” Adam demanded and Kris was proud at how calm he sounded.
“We have a little business to conduct first,” Ryan said and whispered a command that sent Megan and Allison dropping to the floor. “They’re fine,” Ryan said when Jared shouted and ran to them. “Just having a little power nap.”
He seemed delighted with himself. “How are you, Adam?” His smile appeared genuine. “I’ve missed you.”
Adam inclined his head. “It’s been a long time, Ryan,” he agreed, “I’d be better if you hadn’t kidnapped my bond-mate.”
Ryan’s teeth gleamed in the dull light and Kris thought he looked like a shark. “Ah yes, pretty Kris.” He reached out and stroked a hand over Kris’ head, almost tender. “He’s been a fascinating guest.” He beamed at Adam. “You’ve improved considerably since the last time I saw you.”
Adam allowed himself a small smile. “Not enough to avoid you spelling me asleep last night.”
The rogue was delighted. “That was a masterful bit of magic, even if I do say so myself,” he grinned and Kris saw that the laugh never went anywhere near his eyes. Ryan was incapable of feeling - anything.
“Indeed,” Adam murmured and his eyes finally rested on Kris. “Are you well, beloved?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, just can’t move,” Kris told him and attempted to wriggle, sagging back with an angry sigh when it didn’t work.
“You’re expending a lot of energy keeping him bound,” Adam noted.
“Perhaps I can borrow one of your little batteries?” Ryan suggested, looking hopefully at Jensen and Jared.
“I don’t think so,” Adam’s eyes were hard. “Let’s get this over with.”
“So impatient,” Ryan mourned and Kris really wanted to kick his ass so badly.
Jared and Jensen stood on either side of Adam. Jen looked at his mage. “What can I do to help?” he asked in an undertone
“Put your hand on my shoulder and whatever you do, don’t let go,” Adam ordered. He nodded at Jared to do the same. “I’m going to need you two to keep me standing.”
“You got it, boss,” Jay assured him and he smiled over at Jen. “Good times, right?” His eyes sparkled and his dimples cut deep grooves in his cheeks.
“You’re officially insane,” Jen told him but grinned maniacally back and dropped his hand on Adam’s shoulder. “I want to be done with this right now, please.”
“Right,” Ryan somehow looked bored and elated at the same time. “Who wants to die first?” He didn’t sound very worried about the possibility that it could be him.
“You?” Jay suggested and the Mage Prime sent him flying across the room with a flick of his hand.
“You need to train your warrior to show more respect,” Ryan told Adam with a frown.
“He’s good at what he does,” Adam shrugged. “I don’t need an ass-kisser.”
Kris felt something loosen around his legs and stayed perfectly still, not wanting to draw Ryan’s attention to him. He glanced quickly at Adam but Adam kept his gaze on the Mage Prime.
Trust me, beloved. Adam’s plea was a whisper-soft caress in his mind. Kris decided to do just that. Somehow Adam was trying to get him free while keeping Ryan’s attention on him.
“He is rather beautiful,” Ryan admitted looking over to where Jared was sprawled unconscious. “But I’ve found that warriors are too set on sticking to the law.”
“It’s part of their make-up,” Adam pointed out and Kris felt the fingers of his right hand slip free.
“It’s tiresome and makes for too many disagreements,” Ryan disagreed. “Nuh-uh!” he shook his head at Jensen who looked poised to leap at him. “If you don’t stay put you’re going to end up like your little friend over there.” He tipped his head in Jared’s direction.
“Why did you want me here?” Adam demanded.
Ryan sighed and kept a hand petting gently on Kris’ head. “I got bored,” he confessed. “I mean, yes, the hunt is fun and the taste of all that terrified energy is delicious, but it’s become tedious.”
“So what?” Jen demanded and Kris wanted to shout at him to shut the fuck up. “You decided you’d rather play with the big boys?”
“Oh, you are special, aren’t you?” Ryan crooned and Kris panicked for his captain. “I think it’s time you hushed now,” he told Jensen and Jen slumped to the floor at a word.
“Isn’t this nice?” Ryan asked, looking at Adam, “It’s just you and I!” His eyes glittered, with power or madness, Kris wasn’t sure which.
“And Kris,” Adam pointed out.
“Well, he’s a little ‘tied’ up right now,” Ryan giggled and held out a hand to Adam. “Come and at least have a drink with me.”
Adam spared a brief glance at Kris. “He will be safe?” he asked.
“You have my word,” Ryan assured him. Kris watched in disbelief as Ryan and Adam left the room.
And then he felt the bonds around his right arm loosen. He lifted his arm and flexed his fingers. They were almost nerveless after hours of being trussed up like some twentieth century Thanksgiving turkey.
He heard the murmur of voices and realised that the mages were on their way back. He reached out and quickly palmed Jared’s laser sword, tucking it behind his back and wincing when the hilt anchors sank into the skin of his palm.
Ryan and Adam walked back in, each holding a goblet of wine. “He’s a good bond-mate,” Ryan observed with an empty smile. “He stays where he’s put.”
Kris curled his lip in a snarl and Ryan’s smile widened. “Oh look, he’s threatening me!” He sounded delighted at the prospect.
“He’s protecting me,” Adam told Ryan and touched Ryan’s hand with his.
Ryan screamed, dropped his goblet and punched out his hand towards Adam, sending him sailing into the sharp edge of the coffee table.
“Now that’s just disrespectful,” Ryan growled and twisted his hand around. Kris watched in horror as the magic started twisting Adam’s neck around.
“Adam!” he shouted and Ryan spun around to look at him.
“Be quiet, puppy!” he ordered, pointing at him and Kris felt his jaw clench shut. His hand was still free though and he felt around on the hilt’s controls until he touched the power button.
Adam knelt on the floor, his neck at a sharp angle, but Kris’ distraction had bought him a little time. Kris suddenly found that his legs were free, not just loose and he gathered himself up to attack.
Kris stared in horror as he watched Ryan’s hand formed a claw and make a scratching motion in the air. Adam screamed as five long gashes appeared on his cheek.
“So proud of your beauty,” Ryan muttered, “So conceited, so vain.”
“It’s not my fault Simon loved me more than you,” Adam gasped and Kris hated seeing the agony on his face. Alli was going to take care of him as soon as this was over. She’d heal that beautiful face as soon as she was up to full power.
“You stole him from me!” Ryan shouted. “Poisoned him against me so that he cast me out!” He was practically foaming at the mouth as he yelled at Adam, towering over him.
“You tried to kill him,” Adam grunted as Ryan made another scraping gesture and five angry, bleeding slashes appeared on his other cheek.
“He chose you!” Ryan shrieked and Kris could now see the full extent of his madness. There was nothing human or real behind those eyes. It had been burned out centuries ago. “Over me! He chose you! Bastard progeny of a scientific experiment he conducted and he chose you?”
Adam’s eyes flickered once to Kris and he inclined his head in a miniscule nod. Kris felt the last of Ryan’s magical tethers fall away and he launched himself, on still numb legs, up and out of his seat towards the Mage Prime.
Ryan fell back in shock, utterly dumb-founded that Kris had broken free. Kris powered up the sword, swung it up and around in a long arc before slicing through Ryan’s neck with one surprisingly smooth motion.
Adam dropped to the floor, breath shaky. Kris watched Ryan’s head spin away from his torso as if in slow motion, and the Mage Prime’s body crumpled in on itself to the floor.
He lunged towards his bond-mate. “Adam!” he shouted grabbing onto him. Suddenly Jensen was there, tugging him away from Adam. Kris shook him off and stumbled nearer.
Jared was cradling his partner in his arms and making low, desperate sounds. “Adam! Boss, come on, you got to stay awake so that I can boost you.” He lifted his wrist and bit at the cut he’d made earlier and held the bloody wound over Adam’s mouth. “Come on, drink, please.”
It was scary and humbling watching the warrior trying to revive his mage. Kris felt his head throbbing and then he reached out, took Adam’s hand and opened himself up so that Adam could take whatever he needed to heal. Adam, take what I give freely, he whispered.
The wave of fear, desire, terror and love lifted Kris up and crashed through him. Thank you, beloved, Adam’s voice was thin and pained but he was there. Kris was so grateful that he pressed a kiss on Adam’s hand and promptly passed out for the second time that day.
The journey back to their compound was a series of flashes for Kris. He woke up in a hover, panicking and looked around for Adam.
“He’s here,” Jared took him by his shoulders and turned him to look at Adam lying next to him.
“Adam,” he sounded as though his tongue was too big for his mouth.
“He’s fine, just tired,” Alli assured him and he wrapped himself around, holding him tight and close. He felt warm and safe and alive.
he dropped back into unconsciousness again.
He roused when Jen lifted him and carried him into the house. “Can walk,” he slurred.
“Shut the fuck up,” Jensen ordered and Kris did, but watched carefully as Jared and Matt carried Adam to their bed.
“Promise he’s okay?” he asked no one in particular.
“I swear on Jen’s life that he’s going to be fine,” Jay told him. Kris wanted to grin at the annoyed expression on Jensen’s face but he was just so tired. He felt his eyelids drop closed again and allowed exhaustion to claim him.
He came to with Adam’s mouth on his cock and his fingers in his ass and he arched up into Adam’s touch with a hiss and a promise. “If you stop I will kill you!” he warned Adam.
“Never gonna stop touching you,” Adam mumbled around his mouthful of Kris’ dick and then looked up at Kris through long dark lashes. He pulled away with an audible slick sound and Kris heard himself whimper.
“We need to complete the binding,” Adam told him. “It involves actual sex, you know, exchanging bodily fluids, invading body parts.” He smiled at Kris’ flinch. “I promise, beloved, it will be a wonderful thing.” He kissed Kris carefully and then amended, “Eventually.”
Kris decided to ignore that whole conversation. “You’re okay?” Kris asked and found his hands running over Adam’s body, checking to see that he was whole and healthy.
“Perfect, never better, Allison is a marvel,” Adam assured him. “How are you feeling?” He watched Kris carefully and lay quietly as Kris touched his cheeks, now unmarked.
“You let him slice you up so that you could get me free,” Kris accused, his arousal forgotten as the memories of those awful few moments returned.
“He had more power that I did,” Adam told him. “I wasn’t ever going to beat him in combat. I had to be sneaky.” His mouth curved in a gorgeous smile. “He didn’t even see you coming!”
“I killed someone,” Kris felt ill. “I’ve never even killed an ant.”
Adam’s face went serious. “You saved my life and probably that of Jensen, Jared and the girls. He would have killed us all.”
“I killed someone,” Kris repeated and fell into Adam’s waiting arms. He found his comfort there.
Jen leaned against the kitchen counter and punched in an order for beer - a lot of beer.
Jared wandered in a moment later and snagged Jen’s beer from his hand. “Thanks,” he grinned and Jen gave him a tired glare and pulled out another beer.
“They’re awake,” Jensen grumbled.
Jay’s grin widened. “I think they’re actually doing the whole enchilada, you know,” he dropped his voice and whispered, “sex?”
Jen choked on the mouthful of beer he’d just taken. “Gee, you think?” he sputtered. “Wouldn’t have guessed with all the moaning and groaning going on in there.”
He scowled. “We need to get new digs - where their room is on the other side of the house to ours. And we can hear nothing.” Jared nodded vigorous agreement.
“And where I actually have a room,” Alli announced when she walked in. She grabbed the beer from Jensen’s hand. “Thanks man,” she beamed and Jared snickered into his own pilfered bottle.
“We should also consider having a spare room,” Jen mused, “for when we have guests.”
Allison nodded vigorously. “Yeah, like when Matt and Megan work late here and don’t want to go home to their places.”
Jen wondered if the two detectives would still be assigned to their unit after this. He hauled out another beer for himself and swore that he would bite the hand that tried to take this one from him.
The comm beeped. They headed to the war room, and Jensen opened the channel.
Commander Beaver frowned at them. “It’s eleven in the morning,” he pointed out, glaring at their drinks.
“We were up almost forty-eight hours straight, sir,” Jensen defended his beverage. “It’s been a pisser of a couple of days.”
Beaver nodded. “Where are the mage and your seer?” he asked, peering over their shoulders. They all exchanged glances and opened their mouths, prepared to lie through their teeth.
“Good morning, Commander,” Adam’s smooth voice came from behind them and they spun around to see Adam and Kris in the doorway.
“How are you two feeling this morning?” his gruff voice didn’t hide his concern.
“I’ve felt better,” Adam admitted, “but Kris and I are alive and whole and so is the rest of our team. I suppose that we can count this as a win for the good guys.” He smiled at Kris, eyes gentle and loving.
“I would like to say on behalf of the city of San Angeles, that I am extremely proud of what you and your team accomplished, Captain Ackles.” He was formal and saluted them.
Jensen quickly put down his beer and returned the salute. “Thank you, sir,” he said, “but we were just doing our job.”
“And you’ve had a thankless time of it until now,” Commander Beaver frowned. “That is going to change.”
Adam and Kris leaned into each other, a visible unit and Jared stood behind Jensen and Allison, a solid and comforting presence.
“I have assigned Detectives Giraud and Joy to your team permanently. I trust you have no objections?” He raised an eyebrow and they all shook their heads. “I think having a couple of ‘regular’ officers on the team as a bridge to the rest of the force can only be a good thing.”
“Yes sir,” Jen replied, “thank you, we worked very well with them.”
“Well,” the Commander cleared his throat. “I suppose you can relax for the rest of the day, considering what happened yesterday.” He looked sternly at them. “But I expect you all back at your duties tomorrow morning.”
“Yes sir!” they chorused and the screen went dark.
“Fuck me,” Alli moaned. “I am going to sleep for the rest of the day.” She sloughed out of the war room, shoulders drooping.
Kris and Adam exchanged silent looks again, so intimate that Jen had to look away. “We need to recuperate from our ordeal,” Adam said with a half smile.
“We’re exhausted,” Kris yawned, exaggeratedly wide. “Bye!” he waved and dragged Adam after him to their room.
“Sex I tell you,” Jay whispered loudly.
“Lalalalala!” Jen stuck his fingers in his ears and Jared laughed.
“Want to give it a try?” Jay asked, waggling his eyebrows. “I mean, rules are only there to be broken.” He grabbed Jensen’s hand and began leading him to their room.
“We are the law,” Jen pointed out as Jay closed the door behind them.
“So, what are you gonna do?” Jared said as he set his mouth at the base of Jensen’s neck. “Arrest me?”