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Hawthorne Boys

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Chapter 1

The car ride from jail had been quite boring really. Michael stared sedately out of the window and tried to muster interest in the multivarious billboards he saw whiz past, but although he had never been in the area (or even outside of the city) apathy was the only emotion he could work up. Really, the most curious thing was the carefully bland emotions that the chancellor gave off.

Eventually though, the billboards and buildings became less frequent and they drove down the highway through a lightly forested area. Finally they turned onto an access road and then onto a paved private driveway with an excellent view of the overpass which lead to... a bizarre spiraling black structure surrounded by grass.
Grand Chancellor 'Call Me Ariel' Augustus parked the car right on the grass, and got out.
He took a few steps towards the structure, stopped and said:
“We had to make a few renovations, you see.”
Michael stared at him for a second feeling confused; but then shrugged, got out, and began to follow. As it turned out at the center of the spiral was an elevator.
Ariel tried to make small talk as they took the elevator down:
“There are one hundred and fifty boys here at Hawthorne and twenty five staff members...”
Thankfully, the elevator chose right then opened into a dimly lit room.

When Michael entered he was met with applause.
“I'm sure you are wondered why we are gathered here today...”
As his eyes adjusted to the dim candlelight Michael stared at one hundred and fifty gorgeous twink faces and wondered how they could afford the one on one training that the school was known for.
“Michael here is sure to be an exemplary student...”
After one too many students murmured “Alpha” it became clear that Mr. Augustus had said something. Nevertheless, as the boys began to gather around him, Michael did a round of introductions.
“Michael will lead us to new heights...”
He shook hands with smiling boys as he skimmed their surface thoughts, noting which were sincere and which were mere sycophants. It was all the same to Michael, as knowledge was power and some boys were pretty cute too. So as he shook hands he took note that Raymond the Fourth and Theodoric Willis were dicks, but Stuart Buchanan and Andre Stevens were all right.

After a while, his mind drifted. The uniform was itchy. Starchy white shirts with stupid Bolo ties and black blazers made them look like a cross between a pilgrim and the Kentucky Fried Colonel. Michael hated them and began to fantasize about putting the whole outfit in a pentagram and then burning it. But he shook his thoughts away when he heard laughter. It came from a gorgeous platinum blonde who was looking at Andre Stevens and mouthed “Better times soon.” Oh. Mr. Augustus had finally finished then.

With the speech over, Michael knew that he would be getting an onslaught of emotions headed his way from the adulation of his fellow classmates. Michael smiled smugly as he now had his very own cult! Of course there would undoubtedly be some students and even Alumni, like Behold Chablis, who would feel that he brought them great danger. Little did they know how true it was.

Chapter Text

When James first arrived at the Hawthorne Academy for Exceptional Young Twinks he didn't know what to think.

No, not James, he wasn't around Nana's friends anymore—Gallant. And he wouldn't be around Nana's friends in the future, since the dinner party where Nana told him to stop acting like a three year old. He tried not to let it but she made him feel so dumb and then he got angry and suddenly all the silverware and dishes and goblets full of burnt champagne started flinging around the room.

She called him a freak, then too. After the single suburbanites in their sweater vests fled in terror, Nana flung her arms out dramatically and said:

“It's bad enough that you're gay and will never be able to marry a nice girl but now you're also one of those freaks on the news who claim they can do magic. How am I going to throw a proper dinner if you can't control yourself?!?”

 

So that was how Gallant found himself in this dim place. Don't get him wrong, the dark wood double staircase is cool, as were the arched doorways, random firepits, black couches, and bookshelves. But did they know candles only flatter old people? Whatever, Gallant could work with that.

He did the round of introductions and marveled at all the hotties even while he despaired at the uniform. He guessed that maybe only hot guys where witches.

They led him down a shadowy arched hallway and showed him the classrooms where they did magic.

He passed by one classroom where he saw a student with slightly wavy dark brown hair down to just below the ears get blindfolded and then heard the teacher say:

“What types of meat are in the soup?”

The student, without tasting anything replied:

“Beef chuck shoulder, alligator jelly roll, and Axis deer flank.”

Later, he passed by another classroom where the teacher was standing behind a massive dark wood table that was covered in bowls with weird markings talking about how to color things like your clothes and your hair using only magic! Gallant decided then that magic could be pretty cool.

 

An hour later and no longer blindfolded, the same hottie from earlier came up to him and said:

“Welcome to Gay Hogwarts, My name is Stuart Buchanan Junior but everyone calls me Stu. Let me show you where we're staying.”

“You're my new roomie? Cool. Call me Gallant.”

********

Stu was a pretty cool roommate despite being romantically unavailable.

Gallant got to meet Stu's boyfriend Andre Stevens, and they got to be pretty good friends. Andre told him about the other boys in Hawthorne, and about the rumors around Mr. Henry. Time passed and Andre taught him magical words so he wouldn't sound so dumb in front of the teachers. He told Gallant about his mom who was a celebrity like Nana, and a little bitchy like Nana too. But she was cool with her son having a boyfriend and she was also like some sort of Voodoo queen which is badass.

 

They had arranged a sock on the doorknob system for when Andre and Stu needed some time alone, so Gallant was crushed when he saw a letter on his bed that said that Stu asked for a roommate transfer.

Wild-eyed, the moment that the bedroom door opened Gallant exclaimed:

“Why would you want to move? Was I too noisy? Do my hair products smell too strong?”

Stuart shot him a puzzled look and then attempted a comforting tone:

“No, no it's not you. Andre has an asshole of a roommate who always says something nasty whenever he sees us together. It's never enough to get him into real trouble but after three years were both really tired of it.”

Chapter Text

Gallant took a deep breath before knocking on the door.

"Go on in." A voice called out softly.
As he walked in Gallant noted that Michael sat barefoot on the edge of the bed, with two backpacks below him and with his nose stuck in what looked like...

"I was wondering how long you would stay out there."
"Is that Jack's copy of the first Harry Potter?"
Michael just shrugged.
"What did you offer him to get him to let go of that?"
"Nothing. He ran off and left his satchel behind after I told him that books would never be a substitute for his mother's love no matter how immersive the experience."

Gallant looked around for something to lean casually against.
"I like the new decorations" Gallant said as he gestured vaguely, giving up and sitting on the other bed with his heels crossed.

"Is that so." Michael said, standing up and deftly closing the gap between them to stand far too close and then stared into Gallant's eyes.
Gallant felt himself start to blush.

Michael's expression changed to one of amusement as he sauntered to the door,casually draped one arm on the frame and said:
"You will have to let me know what you think when I'm done."
Then Michael opened the door and walked out.

***Two weeks later***

As they entered Andre and Stu's new bedroom, Andre turned to Gallant and asked:
“So what's Michael like?”
Gallant looked down awkwardly and said:
“My roomie is really odd and hard to describe...”

“I mean, half of his wardrobe is cheerful yellow striped shirts and light jeans, and the other half is just black.”
“Honestly, Gal. That's hardly weird, it just means he's going through a phase.”

“He was playing with a Gameboy.”
“Oooh, vintage!” Stu mocked.

Gallant turned to Andre “He put a poster on the wall with a picture of a skeleton wearing robes and a giant hat and there were crosses everywhere."*
“Okay...” said Stu and flopped down on the cream colored bed with black accent pillows.

Gallant frowned and added: “He has these lit black candles with silver stars on them.”
“That's not really that weird unless they were upside down.” Andre commented.
“Umm...”

“One time I came in and the room smelled like something had died.” Gallant said as he sat down on the plush black desk chair.
“Eww. I don't need to hear about your roommate's toe fungus.” Andre said as he joined Stu on the bed.

Stu said:“Well I want to hear about Gal's hot weird roommate. Did you know Chad said his hair was like actual silk?” and then he and Gallant both sighed dreamily.

“One time he was chanting while hunched over a silver bowl with what looked like currant juice inside.”
“Sounds like chicken blood--”
“You think it was chicken blood?!”
Andre nodded “Mom uses it all the time while doing her Voodoo shit.”

“He stares a lot.”
“Creepy.”
“Yup,” said Stu “he's definitely gonna murder you in your sleep.”

******

Michael is in the middle of untying a naked young brunette whose lustful thoughts, newly slaked, have turned to boredom.

Yawning, Chad asks: “What's your roommate like?”
“Blonde.”**

Chapter Text

Michael closed his eyes as his blissful thoughts went back to earlier that week on Tuesday.

The wind flung his golden locks and burgundy scarf about as he sped top down the boulevard in Eric Sanderssen's sweet sixteen cherry roadster. Palm trees flashed past as whispered Latin willed every red light he saw to turn green.

He turned to Joshua who looked to be turning a sickly green.

“I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die...”

Behind him Kim Rodgers rolled his green eyes.

Michael's foot hit the gas, and the tires squealed as Kim shouted:

“YOLO!”

He was enjoying himself. Better yet, although he hadn't killed anyone since the cop over a month ago he didn't appear to need to. The materials being taught kept him busy as they captured his imagination during the day, and the young men whose rooms he entered made him focus elsewhere as he learned a different skill set at night. Gone was Michael's former shyness when he could have eager and talented young men in his bed pleasuring him, or inviting him onto their yachts, or giving him their heirlooms, or …

He could hear their twisted desires and he savored every one.

However, there was one young man that confused him and Michael did not understand why.

****

Coco was in town visiting her father and Gallant was pretty exited about it. He'd met Coco three years earlier at one of the Robicheaux/ Hawthorne Academy mandatory school dances where the two schools would pretend that they didn't hate each other.

She'd sat wearing a V-neck A-line mini dress at one of the dark wood benches of the “ballroom” which was really only a large room with a mosaic of triangles making up an octagon. He had watched as she made a comment about another girls' “Pradeau” bag and he had snickered. They'd spent the night making fun of other people's life choices and then that led to them texting, facebooking, and instagraming regularly. Eventually, Coco started dropping by whenever her dad ordered her to come and attend some boring function or other.

So, the plan was that this time they were going to hit the mall or as Coco liked to put it “Go slumming”, maybe eat at Little Italy, then go see a movie.

The sun was starting to set when Gallant got to the large fountain where they said they would meet up.

There, instead of Coco, he found Michael standing just in front of the fountain and its glowing ring of light, wreathed by jets of water and surrounded by at least twenty crows, one of which was perched on his shoulder. They were cawing and coming even closer and Gallant realized that Michael had half a loaf of Italian bread and was feeding them bread crumbs.

 

Suddenly, Coco showed up wearing a white ruffled shirt and a gray plaid mini skirt with diamond embellishments at the pockets and silver heels.

“Who's your friend?”

Gallant closed the gap and whispered into her ear: “Do you remember the guy I was telling you about?”
“I don't suppose you have room for one more.” Michael said boldly, as he strode forward while petting the large crow that hung stubbornly on his shoulder.
Coco rolled her eyes.
“As long as you keep it away from my $1,900 shoes.”

****
Gallant and Coco are at one of those high end stores at the mall finding Michael fashionable clothes in dark jewel tones when Gal's sneaky roomate suddenly disappears on them.

Realizing that he doesn't even have the guy's phone number, Gallant spends five minutes of frantic searching before he sees Michael show up in front of the clothes store with several bags and a hissing box.
"What's that?"
Michael says: "That's Bathory, my new Black Mexican Kingsnake."

Chapter Text

At first Gallant didn't mind the snake, Bathory, too much.

He watched as it slithered around on Michael's nicely toned arms as he showed it off to a bunch of people, then watched Michael almost smile as it ate a couple of crickets, and a while later he observed Michael put it back into the aquarium as he left to go do something Mr. Henry wanted.

Gallant and the snake entered into a staring contest for like an hour; after which he realized it had no eyelids and gave up... only to glance back occasionally to see if it was still turned in his direction.

Eventually his vigilance dropped off as fatigue crept in and he fell asleep. Gallant woke up hours later with the alarm. He got up, nudged Michael's prone body, showered, got dressed, went to class—and then returned to find it staring at him as he entered the room.

It only took 22 hours or something like that after the creature's arrival for Gallant to decide that snakes are creepy.

But Gallant decided to ignore the snake and have some alone time. Gallant lay on top of his bed enjoying the feel of his new ultramarine silk twill boxers while not thinking about golden tresses (yet) when he heard a metallic clink from the other side of the room.

He sat up while looking around and noticed that one of Michael's weird silver bowls was upside down on the floor. He looked to Michael's desk; there he saw one of the starry candles wobble and heard a faint hiss.

“Fuck!”

*****

Michael wondered what Mr. Moore really wanted. His sins were a confusing mix; there were the usual sins of a man born into luxury such as sloth and gluttony, yes, but also there was hate mixed with guilt. However, of greater interest was the fact that once the man realized that Michael had entered the room his surface thoughts were replaced with spike of paranoia followed by a kind of white noise, as though he was aware and wary of Michael. And to top it off, his questions appeared to be a kind of fishing expedition...

“Fuck!”

Michael ran the last few steps to his bedroom (though he would deny it later). There, he found a wide-eyed, shaking Gallant standing on top of his bed and staring down towards the center of the room.

As he entered the room Gallant turned and spotted Michael.

“Your fucking snake is loose!”

Michael walked up to Gallant slowly as though he was a wounded and skittish animal.

Michael spread his arms out and opened his palms in what he hoped was a non threatening gesture.

“You do realize that Bathory is a mere fraction of your size and you are far scarier to her than she is to you.”

Then he reached up to Gallant's face and gently caressed his cheek and after a few moments Gallant's eyes fluttered shut and his tense shoulders slumped into a more relaxed position.

Michael continued:

“Right now she's probably hiding in some deep shadowy corner of the room. You can help me look for her if you like, but only if you come down.”

Gallant used Michael's strong shoulder as a brace and stepped down.

They turned to each other and Michael said:

You go look on your side of the room, I will look on my side of the room, and we will meet in the middle.”

After a couple minutes of searching fruitlessly, all they had determined what that the hissing meant the snake was still in the room.

Suddenly, out of the corner of Gallant's eye he noticed a tail slither under the closed door of the dark closet.

“There it is!” Gallant shouted as he ran towards the closet door. Michael sighed and then jogged up to him.

Before Michael could say anything, Gallant threw open the door and ran inside. Michael took a couple steps in when he spotted Bathory coiled in a shoe. He had taken another step towards her when he heard a click, plunging the room into darkness.

“Michael?”

“Here!” he said and took a couple steps in Gallant's direction, thankful of his near perfect memory.

He felt Gallant's hand touch his arm. He stepped closer and surrounded Gallant in an embrace. He could feel Gallant tighten his grip, his hair brushing against Michael's cheek. Michael realized that Gal was shivering. His heart skipped a beat with anticipation as he wondered what it would be like to kiss him.

“Shhh, it will be okay” Michael whispered into Gal's ear, then ghosted his lips upon Gallant's cheek, then jaw, and finally there was pressure against plump lips. Gallants lips parted with a sigh of permission as Michael's tongue slipped inside. Gallant groaned as his arms, once wrapped tightly, loosened into a slow downwards caress of one of Michael's best assets. Michael's other hand found its way into Gal's short hair, and tugged slightly when breath finally ran short.
Gallant looked at him stunned and a little confused when Michael took a step back and said:

“We need to light one of the sconces so we can find the snake.”

“Shouldn't we talk about...”

“This?” Michael said, and stepped forward to peck him on the lips. “Yes, but not right now.”

Gallant sighed and reluctantly said:

“Don't we need matches?”

“Watch”

Michael began an incantation in Latin and abruptly all the sconces in the walls were lit.

“So hot” Gallant whispers.

“I think I saw her coiled in a-- there she is!” Michael strode forward to the shoe rack and found the small snake asleep, nestled in a black snakeskin ankle boot.

Michael picked up the boot like it was something precious, and carefully walked to the door.

Michael whispered: “Please come over here quietly. Do you remember the password you learned when it was reset after I moved into the room?”

“Yeah?”

“Please punch the code to get us out, I would do it but I have my hands full.”

After a moment loud typing could be heard, followed by a click. Gallant pushed the door open then immediately walked across the room and flung himself onto his bed and began staring up at that ugly yellow ceiling, a hopeful smile spreading across his face.

Michael walked over to the corner of the room where the aquarium stood with its mesh lid askew. Michael carefully poured the sleeping snake out of the ankle boot and into the aquarium. Then he reset the lid and walked over to his desk where he picked up a battered copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and walked back to set it on top of the mesh lid.

“This book is as heavy as Jack's heart. It will be an adequate impediment to future escape attempts, I think.” Said Michael.

*******

Gallant had been looking forward to going clubbing after yesterday's little snake hunt. Not only was it Coco's last night in L.A. before an early morning flight back to New Orleans, but Andre knew the bouncer so he said they would go right through without waiting and sweating in a long line.

So Gallant decided that he would be dancing that night in his black leather vest with the short fringe and custom pants that fit like a glove.

They went to the club, and after dancing for a while Gallant took a break to sit on the tall chrome and leather stool at the club's bar where he tried to decide which of the many blue swirly concoctions he was going to try. He knew he looked hot—what he chose could determine which free drinks the more observant hotties would end up getting him.

Having made up his mind, Gallant said: “I think I'll have--”

“He'll have a Hurricane.” Said a familiar soft voice.

Gallant turned to his left to see Michael looking unearthly beautiful in a semi-sheer black top and pants and his gorgeous blue eyes enhanced by a smoky makeup.

“Live a little. Life is a storm, after all.”* Michael flashed him a big grin and Gallant's right hand grabbed for the bar-top as he suddenly felt a little dizzy.

“You're friends with Andre, right?” Michael said as he sat down.

“Did he really get into a fight with Ray in the bathroom? I heard one of the pipes burst but only Ray got wet.”

“He's, uh, hydrokinetic.” Gallant replied.

“Under the right conditions that's a really useful power.” Michael said, as the bartender set down a blue drink with a pineapple slice in front of Gallant.
“That'll be $12.34.”

“Just think of all the buildings with indoor plumbing.” Michael continued, looking avaricious as he payed for the drink.

Gallant took a big sip of his drink while he considered a way to change the topic.

“Did you come alone?”

“No, I got here with friends. They're around somewhere.” Michael waive airily.

“You?”

“Same. I--”

“Do you want to dance?” Michael said with his eyes looking down, his previous boldness replaced with a shy tone.

Gallant glanced at his three quarters' full drink and shrugged with a smile. Then as they both stood up Gallant slipped his arm around Michael's waist and led him away from the bar.

Chapter Text

As the week went by, Gallant felt himself fall faster and harder. Between classes and kisses, Gallant learned that they both were raised by their Nanas (only Michael's killed herself when he was fifteen), they both liked cats (and definitely not dogs), and they both had fathers who rejected them.

Gallant told Michael that he was a wiz (but not a warlock) at cutting hair. Michael admitted that he liked to draw and offered to 'draw him like one of his french girls' (whatever that means). Gallant learned that they both liked the feel of different textures against the skin and that pain could mean pleasure too.

Unfortunately, it had been one month since the arrival of Gallant's very smart boyfriend. This meant that it was time to assess him with a three part test to determine his strength as a warlock. He could be a level one like Stu or Will, or he could be a level four like a witch Supreme.

*******

Gallant came into the room just as Michael finished watching Titanic on Mat's laptop.

He tried to remain aloof, but inside Michael could feel a buzzing energy as he was still in shock: He had passed the test at level four of course, but that wasn't a surprise.

What was a surprise was that when the test results were announced, the Grand Chancellor decided to have a private chat with Michael. Ariel informed Michael that Cordelia Goode, the headmistress of Robicheaux Academy for Exceptional Young Women, was coming to evaluate him on the Seven Wonders test.

“It should be a piece of cake...” Michael murmured. “Father...”

Ms. Meade, Antoine and the others were counting on him. Mr. Augustus and the teachers were counting on him. Even Gallant was counting on him.

Michael felt the bed dip as Gallant sat down.

“Are you ok?” Gallant asked, slight frown creasing his handsome face.

“Is it the test? Did you, I mean, of course you did well...”

“I'm a level four.”

Brown eyes battled excitement with concern and confusion. “Isn't that what you wanted?”

“It was easy, I just found a book, teleported, and made it snow.”

“And?”

“It was cold, I nearly killed everyone.” Michael shuddered. “I'm sorry,” he whispered as he wrapped his arms around himself.

“Well, its not like you wanted to...” Gallant assured him, and Michael felt Gal's warmth as arms encircled him from behind.

******

The next day the student body was abuzz with the information that the Supreme Cordelia Goode, Zoe Benson, and Myrtle Snow had arrived for an 'emergency council' and there were rumors everywhere about what it could mean.

A few minutes after the council started Gallant heard shouting but he didn't care. He had bigger concerns as he was quietly freaking out.

Michael didn't show up for lunch and no one had seen Michael for the past hour. Gallant had gone back to their bedroom to check there and found a map of L.A. And a detailed drawing of Hotel Cortez, which Mr. Chablis had said was cursed.

Gallant was trying to decide whether he should tell a teacher what he found, when he heard another shout coming from the entryway that caught his attention.

“Michael!”

Gallant immediately ran towards the noise. Just as he went around the corner of the corridor into the main room he saw two older women struggle to carry a third unconscious one down the double stairs. Moments later the elevator door opened, revealing Michael and two young women, and Gallant did a double take as the one with wavy hair looked really familiar...

“Didn't you die?” asked Gallant.

“Surprise bitch!” responded The Madison Montgomery.

“Me, I was cursed.” the other woman deadpanned, as Michael looked on in amusement. Gallant realized that he knew her too, as one of the women from the witches' school.

“Queenie... Is she alright?” Gallant, asked gesturing to the unconscious blonde as the three women passed him by.

“Bitch is tougher than she looks.” Madison replied just as Queenie shrugged.

As the other women continued on down the corridor, Gallant turned back to the stairs and noticed for the first time all the shopping bags and Michael's new clothes.

“Really, Michael?”

Madison Montgomery slung an arm across Michael's shoulders and said:

“Gotta dress to impress.”

Later that day, the witches left for New Orleans.

*****Two weeks later*****

The boys were busy eating Lamb Korma and Basmati Rice for dinner when Michael was suddenly summoned to the teacher's table.

“What do you suppose they want?” Said Stu, stealing a piece of lamb off of Andre's plate.

“Hey!” Grumbled Andre.

Michael shrugged as he got up to follow the teacher's aide.

As they reached the teacher's table Michael began to speak: “Mr. Augustus--”

“Ariel, dear boy. Now, I know you're wondering what you are doing here but seeing as you will be taking the Seven Wonders test,” Mr. Augustus paused.

“I thought that the Supreme said no?”

“Ah, not to worry, once she saw what you could really do she changed her fickle mind.” Mr. Augustus beamed at him.

“Which brings me to my second point, you need protection boy.”

Ariel straightened and looked benevolently down at Michael. “Not that you won't do well, but we can't be too careful can we?”

******
As Gallant entered the bedroom, he found Michael pacing back and forth.

“Sorry I'm late.” Gallant said as he closed the distance and touched Michael's arm stalling his movement. “Me, Andre and a few of the guys went out to see a movie since we figured you might be gone a while.”

Michael closed his eyes for a moment.

He opened them and said: “No, that's not...”

“I need to call my mom. Can I borrow your cell?”

“Oh, sure.” Gallant gestured to his desk, then moved to sit on his bed. “Front drawer.”

Michael leaned over to kiss Gallant's cheek, then went to the desk to grab the phone.

He walked to the door then paused and turned his head toward Gallant.

“Privacy. I'll be back in a few.” then Michael went through the door.

Gallant leaned back against the pillows and waited. After a half hour he reflected on his day and said:

“Bathory, I have an insensitive idiot for a boyfriend.”

Chapter Text

“Mr. Moore is missing.” Willy said, as he sat down by Gallant during breakfast.

“Who cares” said Theo, three seats over. “He probably went to a bar and got drunk.”

“Maybe. I'm more interested in the witches coming to test Mikey, here.” Said Stu, nudging Michael.

“Don't ever call me that again.” Michael said as a dark look crossed his eyes.

“He's been stressed.” Gallant commented quietly to Andre.

Michael poked woefully at his breakfast sausage.

Willy turned and pointed at Theo with his fork.

“You don't get it, all his stuff is gone.” the brunette persisted.

“Sweet, no class!” Theo declared.

Gallant saw Michael's nostrils flare in annoyance at the blowhard. He slid his hand under the table and laced their fingers. Gallant turned to Michael and whispered:

“Don't worry about it, Ok?”

All of a sudden, they heard a loud croak followed by a short high pitched yelp and the clatter of a chair falling backward.

Gallant turned to look and saw a very flushed Theo, standing and pointing a butter knife at his food. Gallant looked more carefully and spotted a large brown toad with clumps of oatmeal and a raisin clinging to his warty head sitting in the middle of a bowl.

“Extra protein.” remarked Stu.

A hand touched Gallant's arm so he turned back to look at Michael and saw him shaking with silent laughter.

*****

Michael had stopped by his room on his way to the last divination class to feed Bathory some crickets. While he waited for her to slither around and hunt her prey he found himself going one last time over everything that he knew.

Michael wasn't worried.

Really... the steps to the seven wonders test were so easy:

First came Telekinesis which he practically did in his sleep. Second was Transmutation... he hoped Gallant would like his little present. The third test was Vitalum Vitalis. At least now dead cats were a thing of the past—undead cats—not so much. Pyrokinesis, the fourth test, was something he could even do to souls. As for Concilium, the fifth test, who doesn't love Jedi mind tricks?

Test number six was Divination, which was boring and often open to interpretation but he reasoned he could pull that one off as well. Aaand... finally there was Descensum. Technically he had already accomplished the task twice over but he could always do more. After all, it wasn't as if any mere demon could impede him from claiming any soul in hell that he wished for himself.

Michael allowed himself a predatory smile as Bathory finished the last cricket and coiled into a lazy sated loop.

The tests would start after lunch. He was ready.

*****

Gallant was worried. He tried not to bite his nails. (It's a disgusting habit James, stop fidgeting!) They had decided to cancel evening classes because Mr. Moore was still missing and anyway no one could really concentrate with all the excitement, which was great but now he had no distractions. He found himself hovering by a side door to the council room where the test was currently taking place, not quite willing to go in but listening to the muffled voices and quiet applause.

Finally he heard someone shout “Misty!” and soon after the double doors of the room opened up and a crowd of teachers spilled out heaping praises on Michael who stood at the center of the swarm.

Gallant started to walk toward Michael when something made him pause.

He turned an took a couple of steps back to the door.

He strained to hear two muted voices:

“...that man you sent to fetch me, he gives me the heebie-jeebies. There's something wrong with him.”

“...the perfume of death...”

“...He'll never be the next Supreme. I only gave him the test because I had to know how strong he is...”

“...advantage... brought back...”

That bitch! Michael was going to be crushed.

He balled his hands into fists then took a calming breath and looked back to the hallway but the large group was long gone. Gallant decided to just head back to their room knowing that Michael would return there eventually and that it would give him time to think of what he would say.

When he got there he spotted a black flower in a disposable yellow plastic cup on his desk. He went closer and noticed a note taped to the bottom. It read:

“Gallant.

This used to be a moth, now its a black Dahlia.

M.”

*****

Michael returned to the room an hour and a half later, eyes alight with pride and a pleased smile on his face.

“Where were you? You missed the festivities.” Michael said as he sat down at his desk chair and began to remove his shoes, then he went to the closet to put them away.

When Michael came back into the room he observed that Gallant seemed resigned.

Curiosity peaked, Michael sat down on Gallant's bed. When that failed to elicit a response, he turned and nudged Gallant with a socked foot.

“Talk to me.”

“Don't kill the messenger, okay?” Gallant said looking down.

“I was listening at the door of the council room after everyone had left and I heard some things.”

Gallant turned toward Michael and grabbed his hand.

“I don't think... Michael I don't think she's going to let you be Supreme.”

Gallant looked up just as Michael gave him a startled look.

“She has to! I passed the test.” Michael snarled.

Gallant sighed. “She's the Supreme, I don't think she has to do anything... and she really doesn't like men. She'll come up with an excuse.”

Gallant grabbed Michael's other hand and gave him an earnest look.

“No matter what, you have me.”

Michael looked at Gallant with tears in the corners of his eyes. Steeling himself, he said:

“Gal, I have to tell you something...”

Chapter Text

“Gal, I have to tell you something...”

As Michael looked at Gallant with tear-filled eyes, Gallant wondered what could get Michael this emotional.

“Actually, It's kind of a lot.” Michael began.

Gallant frowned and reached down with his left hand into one of the side pockets of his black leather Burberry book-bag. After a moment he pulled out his phone and glanced at it.

“Huh. It's already 12:30. Is this gonna take long? 'Cause if it is, maybe we should talk about it tomorrow during free period?” He said, as he unlaced his fingers to rub soothing circles with his right hand into Michael's palm.

“Ok, I guess.” Michael said as he got up to go into the closet. After a moment he came back out wearing just burgundy silk briefs.

Gallant leered at him appreciatively and closed the distance with a passionate kiss. When Gal pulled away half his black satin dress shirt was unbuttoned, so he unbuttoned the remaining two and shrugged it off.

“We can talk about it while I pack tomorrow.” Michael concluded, while he pulled back the bed sheets and gestured for Gallant to join him.

“Get the light like I taught you, please.” Michael said softly as he got into bed.

Gallant murmured words in Latin and the room went dark, obscuring his pleased smile.

*****

After a lunch of avocado sushi, spring rolls, and yellowtail sashimi Michael and Gallant went back to their room for what would be one of the last times before Michael would leave to go to New Orleans. What a depressing thought. Gallant tried not to think about the difficulties of long distance relationships as he wandered over to pick up a thermos on Michael's desk that lay next to a silver knife that Andre called an athame. To distract himself, he opened up the top drawer of the desk and pulled out a pair of red leather gloves and put them on. He opened the thermos and got out a chunk of frozen mouse while whispering a spell to thaw it out. Then he held his breath and walked over to the aquarium.

Meanwhile, Michael had gone straight into the closet—and after a moment came back out with a coffin shaped black trolley suitcase. He set the suitcase down at the foot of the bed and unzipped it. Then he went back to the closet and as he returned with a stack of folded shirts to put into the suitcase Michael said:

“I suppose I should start at my conception.”

“Your secret is how you were born?” Gallant gasped, then fought his gag reflex as he dangled the mieces pieces toward Bathory.

“No, how I was concei—are you feeding Bathory?” Michael replied with amusement.

Gallant gratefully pulled away the moment Bathory snatched the tiny hindquarters from his fingertips then looked at Michael and blushed.

“You're being brave so I thought... but I didn't think about the smell. This is why I don't keep pets.”

Gallant wasn't dumb he could tell Michael was trying to change the subject. He crossed his arms.

“So tell me about you.”

“Are you familiar with the Montgomery Mansion?”

“Sure, Isn't it cursed?”

“Worse, it has ghosts.” Michael rolled his eyes then added: “I was born and conceived there. I was fathered by one of the ghosts.”

“Bullshit.” Gallant said, then his eyes widened when he realized that Michael wasn't joking. He uncrossed his arms, strode forward to Michael, reached out and caressed his face.

“Michael?”

“I'm not lying.” Michael said defensively.

“I know. Talk to me.”

So Michael began to talk about the Harmon family and their strange new neighbor...

Chapter Text

 

Later that day during a porterhouse steak dinner Gallant found himself thinking about all the things Michael had told him. It was a full on soap opera with ghosts, murders, suicides, rape, and the birth of the anti-Christ. Esmeralda would have watched it while clutching her pearl rosary if it was in Spanish.

He didn't know what to believe. When Michael began to tell Gal about his childhood, he told Michael he needed time to think. They agreed to finish the conversation tomorrow on the next free period.

Gallant went to his own bed that night tired and confused.

*****

The next day after lunch Gallant wandered into their bedroom, stressed, staring intently at a list clutched in his hand.

“What's that?” Asked Michael, as he thought about sitting one the bed, then changed his mind. It was better to stand because if Gal got upset he could get to him quicker and soothe him by rubbing those toned shoulders...

Gallant sighed and said: “Mr. Pennypacker decided that he is going to quiz us tomorrow.”

“I'm going to fail.” Gallant declared, dropping the paper in frustration.

“You're not going fail.” Michael said, as he crossed the room and hugged Gallant.

“I don't even know what Yarrow root looks like!” Sobbed Gallant, beautiful tears spilling from his expressive brown eyes as frustrated pain and thoughts of failure spilled from his mind. Michael frowned, pulled back and looked at Gallant.

“You cant, you're mine.”

Gallant glances down, hiccups a last sob and looks back up at Michael with adoration.

After a moment Gallant shyly asked: “Will you tell me now about your childhood?”

So Michael told him about his Grandma Constance, her roses, the coloring books, and the old gameboy; among other things.

Chapter Text

When Gallant got back from classes that afternoon it was to find a note on his bed. It read:

“Gal.

I'm going out for a while and I may be late to dinner. When I come back I will have a surprise for you.

M.”

So Gallant went to dinner without Michael, and when he got there Stu pulled him aside and said:

“Did you hear? The witches are making a 'special' dinner tonight just for the teachers.”

“Why?” Said Gallant perplexed.

“Something about fostering camaraderie between Witches and Warlocks.”

"Why... what's the point?"

“Witches don't really get along with Voodoo priestesses either.” Andre said as he came up to them.

He lowered his voice: “Mom had an interesting visit from a Ms. Supreme today.”

“Yeah?”

“She didn't get what she wanted--” Andre started to say but then he was interrupted by a loud uproar coming from outside of the dining hall.

After a few moments they heard a knock, and then one of the teachers entered the room. He cleared his throat nervously and then loudly said:

“If I could have a moment of your attention.”

After the students quieted he added:

“Effective immediately, all classes for the remainder of the year have been canceled. Those of you who have homes to go to should depart tonight. We can arrange taxi's if you need them.”

What the...” Stu said.

Gallant ignored the voices around him as he thought frantically of Michael's whereabouts: The note only said that he would be gone, not where he had gone!

“I have to look for Michael; have you seen Michael, Andre?”

“Sorry, man.”

Gallant would find him if he had to search every room in Hawthorne Academy...

*****

Michael was tired and grimy.

He had spent all night in the forest with a flashlight a trowel and a basket looking for the herbs on Mr. Pennypacker's stupid list.

Really, it wasn't until false light shone through the forest trees that he realized how much time had actually passed. He hoped that Gal wouldn't be too angry with him because that would defeat the whole point of the gift. He was almost out of the forest, once he got there the edge would open up right into the school's parking lot area.

Really it was little more than a flat paved area with a view of Hawthorne's spiral to the left and the overpass to the-- What on this forsaken earth is that? Michael thought numbly, dropping the basket as he stared at three steel Y-shaped structures with... Is that charred bodies?!

Michael began to feel ill as he stepped toward one of the bodies that looked like it might have been female.

Please Father, no...

Michael touched her face.

Immediately, visions of Ms. Mead's final moments bombarded his mind.

Michael's scream tore through the dawn.

Chapter Text

Hours passed with Michael kneeling by his Devil Mama's charred remains.

As the sun rose Michael stared desolately, his thoughts consumed by grief and rage.

**8:55 a.m.**

Finally he stood, his pain making his stomach clench. A hand fell upon it. Abruptly he heard footsteps coming up from behind.

A pair of faux suede black ankle boots stopped a few feet away from Michael.

“It's over.” Cordelia said gravely.

Michael turned his head, his posture still slightly hunched.

“We know who you are. Your allies are all dead.”

Michael turned to face her fully.

“You've failed.” Cordelia concludes.

“I've already proven to you that I can defy death.” Michael said, his voice cracking. “I'm just going to bring her back, and when I do, Ms. Mead will stand by as we watch you die.”

“You can certainly go to hell, but you won't find her there.” Cordelia responded.

“What have you done?” Michael said hoarsely.

“Her soul is hidden by a spell only I can break. You'll never see her again.”

At those words Michael fell to his knees, but Cordelia wasn't done:

“You're alone.”

“I'm never alone.” Michael half sobbed.

Michael lifted his head. “I have my father.”

“Where is he now?” She chided. “Why did he let this happen?” Cordelia said, walking up to Michael.

“You don't have to follow this path your father laid out for you.” Cordelia said as she leaned towards Michael.

“You can write your own destiny. You can still turn away.” Cordelia added.

“There's humanity in you, I see it.” She spoke with a half whisper.

“If you come with me now, maybe we can find it. Together.” Cordelia finished.

A hand reached down to lift Michael up, and as he stood slowly his face betrayed his uncertainty and defeat. Upright, Michael's posture stiffened as he pulled Cordelia toward him, and as he stared at Cordelia his expression hardened.

“Somehow, someway, I will get her back and then I will kill every last one of you.” Michael snarled.

Michael stormed off, leaving Cordelia standing while toting a black parasol.

*****

When Gallant woke up he found that his alarm clock read 11:13 a.m. Damn it, he had overslept.

Last night, Gallant had fruitlessly searched the entire school for Michael. Eventually, exhaustion forced him to return to bed, but that meant that when he finally woke up he still had no plan.

So after a brief shower, he went to lunch hoping that Andre or Stu were still there and might have an idea.

Stu sat down in the seat left of Gallant with a plate of bacon and eggs and a small milk carton.

“I'm surprised to see that you are still here.” Gal commented.

“How could I leave when there's still so much going on?” Stu gave him a toothy grin.

“There's chaos in the teacher's lounge, students—like rats—are abandoning ship ...and Jack's dad is having an affair with Howell's mom.” Stu said.

“Do we care?” Andre said, as he came up and sat down on Gallant's other side.

“What happened with the teachers last night?” Gal asked.

“I guess you didn't hear. Chancellor pompous, Mr. Pennypacker and Ms. Mead were all accused of killing Mr. Moore and then executed.” Andre said.

“Is that legal?” Gal asked, confused.

“Who cares, the witches always do what they want.” Andre scoffed.

“It is by witch law.”

“I looked for Michael around the school all night. I'm out of ideas.” Gallant said, mussing his hair.

“Did you try the school grounds?” Stu suggested.

*****

Later, Gallant took the elevator up and just outside he found a basket full of herbs, a trowel, and his list from Mr. Pennypacker's class.

On the back of the list Michael had hastily written “I've got to go.”

Chapter Text

When he went back into the school, Gallant's head was stuffed full of frenetic thoughts and emotions. Distracted, his feet led him to Andre and Stu's room. He dropped the basket and knocked on the door.

“We're descent!” Called out Andre. “Usually.” He snickered.

A muffled giggle followed, and as Gal let himself in he saw that the other boys only looked a little disheveled. Seeing the disappointment on Gallant's face, Andre sat up and patted the space next to him.

“No luck?” Andre said consolingly. To his obvious surprise, Gallant shook his head.

“He left a vague note. He's not thinking 'cause his mom is dead... I need to find him right now.”

“Did she belong to any clubs?” Stu asked, seemingly out of the blue. “Because if she did they might have a registry, and where there is a registry there's usually an address.”

Gal perked up. “I know of one.” Then his face fell. “This group is kinda obscure though, and even if it wasn't those things aren't usually made public.”

“That's okay. We'll find an online registry, 'cause even the doll club weirdos go digital these days. And if it turns out it's member only... I know a little hacking.” Stu winked.

*****

Gallant walked up to the front door of the black house. He rolled his eyes. Could this lady have been any more obvious? He knocked and got no answer.

He tried the door and was surprised when the knob turned. He walked in an immediately felt like he should be paying an admission fee. Everywhere he walked there were upside down crosses, black candles, and other objects of the black mass Michael had told him about. Gal went upstairs to look for Michael's room.

He found it empty.*

He picked up the Rubix cube and realized where he had to look next.

*****

Gallant felt a shiver down his spine as he sensed that he was being watched. He straightened his shoulders and walked up to the infamous mansion known as Murder House. He knocked on the door and waited. And waited. He tried the handle on the wide green door. It creaked open.

He let himself in, and looked around the dusty room. Still feeling eyes on him, he pulled the Rubix Cube out of his bag.

“Where did you get that!” A male voice yelled.

Suddenly a furious tow headed dirty blonde teen appeared next to Gallant by the stairs.

“It's mine!” he said, snatching it from Gallant's hand.

“Oh. I thought it was Michael's.” Gallant began to question the wisdom of coming to Murder House.

“Have, Uh, have you seen him?” Beads of sweat started to form on his brow.

“He's been gone for years.” An older, haughty female voice informed him. Gallant half-way turned to his left and saw an older woman, maybe ten years younger than his Nana, in a floral print dress smoking a cigarette.

“I'm Constance Langdon and you're in my house. I don't know who you are but you wasted a trip dear.”

“J-J-James.” Gallant's palms began to sweat.

“Are you the same Constance Langdon who played the housekeeper in 'Murder Me Twice?'”

The woman turned and gave him a surprised look. “Look Tate, a worldly soul.”

The boy sneered.

He saw another ghost appear by the bay window. It was an older man, a brunette who was crying and zipping up his pants. The man seemed kind of out of it; he kept muttering to himself about a pal named Eddie. He turned to look at Gallant and then to the angry boy. “Jesus. It's so obvious.”

Then, the ghost of a blond teen girl appeared and touched his hand.

Already on edge—Gallant startled, turned and fled the house. The thrum of a motorcycle engine and squeal of tires soon followed.

*****

Michael's first thought was that he was cold, and leaning against something hard. He opened his eyes and found himself staring at obnoxious beams of morning sunlight, filtered by the branches of tall trees. His head hurt. Why did his head hurt when he was no mere human to be plagued with small aches?

Vague memories began to return; Grape Fanta. Miriam, burning. Miriam pleading. Gallant laughing... Killing a goat? Which were the hallucinations and which were real? How long had he been lying there?

He had to find safety—regroup—and plan.

Chapter Text

Michael stumbled his way down a narrow alleyway, exhaustion straining his focus. He tried to think of someplace he could find shelter or at least food, but his brain hurt. Gal would have food, where did his Nana live? No, too dangerous. She'll kill him. Kill his love. Kill his snake. Kill all his allies...

Suddenly, among the grime and occasional graffiti he spotted a comforting symbol: the upside down cross. As he staggered towards the wall it was on, his eyes skidded past to the concrete wall ahead.

Another symbol! He eagerly began to follow them like breadcrumbs until he stopped at a door with a burly guard. He opened the door and descended into the gloomy dark.

*****

It had been four days: Gallant had moved all his stuff back to Nana's house, gone back to the school in case Michael had been there in his absence and fed the snake, then gone back to Nana's house and waited with growing fear and frustration for a phone call.

Was Michael in a ditch somewhere? Did he dump him and Gallant was just too stupid to realize? Was he out there getting his revenge? Gallant flopped onto his bed and turned on the twelve o'clock news hoping that he would not hear about a shooting spree... If Michael wasn't dead, Gallant was going to slap him hard. Gallant turned, shoving his face into the pillow and letting out a sad moan.

No, not really. Don't leave me. Come back to me, Michael.

*****

As Madeline drove her cherry red sports car home, Michael thought about all that had happened in the last hour.

He had found himself at a black mass and it wasn't what he would have expected. The woman leading, Hannah, had gotten on everyone's case for not sinning enough and everyone looked bored. He'd sat down by an older woman named Madeline who unexpectedly offered him a meal and a place to stay for the night.

As they arrived at Madeline's house, she informed him that the room he will stay in is upstairs and to the right.

“We can make it to evening mass later.” Madeline said, lighting a cigarette.

“I'll make lunch in a moment, but right now we can sit and talk.” She added, gesturing to the chair at the kitchenette table.

“I sold my soul to the devil and he gave me everything I have ever wanted.” She said, putting out her cigarette, wandering into the kitchen and beginning to prepare lunch.

Michael just looked at her with his lips pursed.

“You sold your soul,” he said drolly “did you sign a contract in blood?”

“I made a deal in a black mass as one does. Through prayer, and by prayer I mean killing people. It works! I got everything I've ever wanted, a La-Z-Boy, a premium package and every Wednesday night Brad Pitt comes over and fucks me until the sun comes up. On Friday nights I get Ryan Reynolds.”

When Madeline puts a plate in front of him, Michael graced her with a look of disgust:

“Your sin is cardinal pleasure.”

As Madeline returned to the kitchen, Michael added dryly “I'm the one your waiting for.”

Madeline quickly pulled out a knife and stalked over to where Michael was sitting.

“How dare you Blaspheme!” she shouted as she pressed the knife to his throat. Michael glared.

“Well before you kill me, dear believer, SEE me.” Michael replied, revealing the Mark of the Beast.

Suddenly, an awestruck look appeared on Madeline's face and she dropped the knife whispering:

“Hail Satan.”

For the moment, Michael looked pleased then a troubled look crossed his face.

“Can I borrow your phone? I need to call my boyfriend.”

Madeline stared at him in surprise: “The Anti-Christ has a boyfriend?”

“This one does.”

Madeline just shrugged and handed over her cell.

Chapter Text

Michael's hand slid up and down, absently rubbing his leg as he waited impatiently while the cell phone rang. Finally there was a click.

“Hello?” Michael closed his eyes momentarily and let himself feel, then pushed down the achy feeling Gallant's voiced had stirred up.

“Gal, I--”

“Michael? Michael, where are you? Why haven't you...You left and I thought maybe you were mad--”

“I'm so, so sor--”

“Shhhh... It's ok. It's okay. Talk to me Alpha, where are you?” Gallant's voice softened and Michael shivered as a strange warmth fused his body.

Remembering that his host might be listening, Michael temporized:

“I'm with a friend of Miriam's now. I was somewhere else... and too upset before.”

“I'm glad you called.”

“Me too. Can--”

“I love you.” Gallant interjected.

“--we do brunch tomorrow?” Michael felt himself blushing.

“Yeesss?” Gallant answered sheepishly. “I have your trolley case with your school things if you want them—of course you want them—where do you want to go eat?”

“There's a cafe just off of I-5 North, I'll text you the address.”

After texting the address, Michael sighed.

“I should probably go now, I don't want to use up all her minutes.”

“Oh, and one more thing. Gal?” Michael said with a huge smirk Gallant couldn't see.

“Yes?”

Michael quickly replied “Love you too.” and hung up to the sound of a gasp.

*****

The next few hours were a chore. No one had ever given Michael a manual to help him deal with crap like overzealous followers who were happy enough to slit some throats but unable to provide any real advice on how to take the first steps towards Armageddon.

It all left Michael in a foul mood when they got back to Madeline's home. He stomped his way up to the bedroom he had been given, yanked at the sheets, then threw himself dramatically on top of the bed (comforter and all).

He huffed loudly into the silent room and stared at the ceiling for several minutes before forcing himself to think of something happy: Kittens. Applause. Cordelia's severed head. Breakfast with Devil Mama. Pancakes with maple syrup. Gallant smiling. Gallant's beautiful tears. Gallant covered in syrup... Michael drifted off to sleep.

*****

When Gallant arrived at the little cafe he found Michael already seated, drinking a coffee. He pulled the trolley case along with him and sat down to stare adoringly into the eyes of the boy he loved. He felt something slide under his fingertips and looked down in surprise at a movie ticket.

“King Cobra?”

“Well you were talking about it last week.”

“Thank you!” Gallant gushed happily as he rose to hug and kiss his boyfriend. They sat back down and talked for about 15 minutes until the waitress came up. Gallant ordered his food and then she turned to Michael expectantly.

“This is it for me.” Michael said as he settled the spoon upside down on a napkin next to the empty coffee cup. The waitress left with her order and the cup and Gallant gave Michael a puzzled look.

“I thought you were going to eat?”

“No, I—Gallant, do you trust me?” Michael said with an earnest expression.

“I don't think Cordelia knows about you—and I can't—we could pretend to be just friends of course, but one look at us together and she'd know that's a lie--” Michael looked flustered and upset.

“Michael what are you talking about?”

“Trust me.”

“I do.” Gallant said placing his hand on Michael's arm as he gazed into Michael's despairing eyes.

Munis illipac erecsid alohcs otnemem. Ealohcs te tnarrevalovni eagirts icsivilbo: Icsivilbo sert muronna omissivon ni.”

Gallant felt a strange empty sensation overtake him as his conscious slipped away.

*****

Gallant woke with a start. The mid-morning sun must have made him drowsy, he thought. Why did he decide to go lunch by himself anyway? He knew there was a reason but it hurt to think about it. He looked down at his cold soup then at the movie ticket on the table.

“Oh that's right.” It was a reward to himself for finishing cosmetology school.

He'd better call for the check, the movie was starting in half an hour.

Chapter Text

Ridicule

 

“Esmeralda, get the damn door!” Roared an elderly female voice while Michael waited at the doorstep of Evie Gallant's house with a stack of black books in one hand and a presentation case in the other.

The door opened revealing a Hispanic woman in a maid's uniform.

“Who--”

“Jehovah's witness!” Michael said, winking and pushing past the half open door. He handed the surprised maid his stack of black 'Bibles' then strode into the living room where Evie lounged on the sofa drinking burnt champagne.

“I'm--” Michael started to say, but stopped with surprise at the sound of laughter. Michael scowled and raised his clenched fists.

“I know you, you're the brat my grandson is dating. Michael something or other.”

Michael's hands smoothed out and slid to his sides as he puffed up proudly.

“I'm--”

“I really don't care. All you want is my money--”

Furious, Michael clenched his right fist and Gallant's nana started to choke on air. This went on for about a minute, before he reluctantly recalled that he needed the old hag alive. He let her go and began to chant. Her eyes took on a vacant expression as the spell exerted its influence over her mind.

*****

After a long—Okay not that long—drive, Michael and Madeline finally arrived at their destination, the Kineros Robotics company. She had told him on the drive that there was a secret network of people who had sold their souls and that they were going to the 'penthouse' to meet some of the people at the top of the network. Madeline parked her candy red car, and Michael got out.

“You're not coming with me.” Michael said sadly, noting that she had not gotten out of the car.

“There not interested in me.”

“Just keep going, I really think that you will like what you see.”

They talked a little longer and he asked her for what she wanted. When she answered that she wanted to go to the worst part of hell Michael shrugged, thinking 'If that's what she wants'.

*****

He walked to the reception area and up to the front desk behind which a sour faced woman in purple stood. He noted that the placard in front of her read “Wilhelmina Venable”.

“May I help you?” She said as she stared at him.

“My name is Michael Langdon, yesterday I scheduled an appointment?”

Venable stared at him for a few seconds longer, then used her cane to slowly walk over to where a computer sat on the desk. She proceeded to clack a few keys, her finger strokes increasing with her confusion.

“You're not in my computer.”

“Well I spoke to a Jeff Pfister and he said to just come on in.”

“A private appointment.” Her sour look grew pinched.

“Very well, wait here one moment while I confirm.”

She left him then, slowly hobbling down a stark white hallway with 'futuristic' curved architecture.

*****

Ms. Venable returned, and instructed him to come in through the private elevator. He made his way up, not knowing what to expect when he reached an 'office' with glass walls, robot parts, a woman and two men with bowl cut hairdos. Gallant would be appalled.

“Dude, what's up?” said Mutt.

“Been dying to meet you.” added Jeff.

“Madeline has been talking you up.” Mutt continued, as Michael circled over to stand next to him.

“That lady is whacked, but she seems convinced that you're the one.”

“No offense, but I totally pictured you more jacked, like, like the Rock, you know?” Jeff commented.

“Nah, that's stereotypical dude.” Mutt chided.

“What do you mean?”

“Uh, what's your name again?” Mutt said, changing the subject.

“Michael” he responded tartly. “Langdon.”

“Michael Langdon” Mutt said as he noded. “You gotta admit that's a little weak.” He guffawed, and Jeff joined in.

“Shouldn't it be Beelzebub, or something?” Jeff added sarcastically, grinning as Mutt continued to laugh.

“Old Scratch?” Jeff continued, and gave Mutt a high-five. Michael stared, then began to stalk off.

“No, dude!”

Nonono!” The twinned idiots waved emphatically at Michael to stop.

“We believe you. You know, I thought I would be pissing my pants or something and I'm as dry as the Sahara.” Mutt said.

“You gotta look at it from our point of view, I mean, how do we know you're the Anti-Christ?” Said Jeff.

“Yeah,” echoed Mutt “How do we know?”

Michael slowly and silently walked back, with a solemn expression of resting bitch face.

He stood, his back to Mutt and Jeff, and lifted up his curly hair to expose the mark of the beast.

“Woah” said Mutt.

The woman in the room gazed upon it as well, stricken with horror.

“I mean, that's cool, but its just a tattoo on your scalp.” Mutt murmured.

The woman chose that moment to speak up: “No, its true.”

“I can feel the darkness, it's sick and its coming from him!”

She broke into a run and Michael set her on fire, consuming her.

Yeah-”

Oh holy shit!” Said the two men, as Michael caused the lights to flicker and his eyes went black.

He growled, glancing back at the men.

“Hail Satan.” Jeff gasped, prostrating himself.

“Hail Satan.” Mutt added a beat later, and then imitated his friend.

Michael looked down and gave them a pleased smile as they chanted 'Hail Satan' a few more times.

*****

A short while later they were eating lunch at a picnic table as they discussed the reason Michael was there:

To bring back his beloved Ms. Mead (and make her Mossad) in the form of a robot with all the personality traits and memories that Michael knew about.

Then he promised them not to reveal to her that she was a robot, at least in the beginning, as it would send her into an existential crisis.

Chapter Text

A few weeks ago, Michael had used his powers to draw and then transport himself to Hotel Cortez.

Now he looked down at the picture he had just finished completing: Curlicued wrought iron gates opened up to a garden of Wisteria, Hemlock, and Honeysuckle blooming out of season. White, stately columns surrounded by twinned cardinal and Cyprus vines reach skyward connecting the front porch to the overhang on the proud three story mansion. Its many windows have gazed upon the changes the centuries have brought, pristine marshlands replaced by tarry roads and power-lines. 

Michael  quickly grabbed Miss Mead's hand and suddenly they were there, standing before an edifice that was the physical manifestation of southern majesty.

Michael strode past the open gates and up the steps onto the porch, knocking politely at the door. He knew that Dinah Stevens was aware of his presence. Had she not wished him entry onto her property, a wall of force would have slammed into him the moment he tried to pass the open gate. There were voodoo sigils carved into the gateposts. A Voodoo priestess should always keep nearby a number of protections against evil spirits, after all.

He made his way to the door, accompanied by a silent Ms. Meade and a sonata made up of the chirping of crickets, the croaking of frogs, and the buzzing of a lonely carpenter bee. He knocked on the door, and fortunately did not have to wait long as a surprised André—wearing a black crew neck shirt and jeans—opened the door.

“Michael? What are you doing here? Did you come all this way to get Bathory?”

Bathory? Oh, that's right. Gallant had told him during their lunch that André was worried that the staff might do something soon if no one came to claim her, so he used his mother's eccentricities to excuse the addition of a snake on their private jet.

“You're right.” Michael said, as they walked inside. No point admitting that the snake had slipped his mind. “I also wanted to talk to you and your mother. I'm sure you've realized that it's not safe to go back to the school right now, or even at all, as the witches are aware of its location and another feud appears to be stirring between warlocks and witches. If you could tell our classmates to keep their heads down for now, I think I might know of a location where the alumni of Hawthorne could congregate in the future.”

Michael followed André as he left the living room going up the left side of the carpeted double stairs and into a hallway, stopping at the third door. André looked down briefly, unusually shy.

“You're the third person from school to ever see my room.”

The room was surprisingly spartan and clean, the only sign of mess were an open box full of gift wrapping paper on the desk and a black fur coat sprawled over the back of a chair.*

“My aunt is living in Montana, and it seems she forgot that it never freezes here.” André said, gesturing carelessly at the coat.

“Your snake is over there.” He tilted his chin towards the corner of the room. Michael crossed the room and picked up Bathory, stroking her lovely black scales with one arm as he allowed her to encircle the other.

“Is your mother here?”

“She went to take a call. I'm sure it's some hysterical housewife determined to make her cheating husband pay. She'll be done in a minute, but you can wait for her in the living room if you want.”

Michael shrugged. “I will in a moment, how have you been?”

*****

As Michael waited, he thought about what he would say when she came out to sway her: He needed a traitor to help him from the inside before he could get his revenge. Cordelia's people skills would aid him in this, he was certain, as he knew from André that there was some bad blood between her and the reigning Voodoo Queen. If she didn't recognize him he would play on her love and growing concern for her son. If she did, he would play on her greed.

He heard a door open, and the Voodoo Queen didn't so much as pause in her descent when she spotted him halfway down the stairs. When she reached the bottom, Michael stood up.

“Ms. Stevens. Do you know who I am?”

“The witches have spoken about you, as has Papa Legba.” Dinah said, eyeing him warily.

“Then you know what I can do.”

“And I'm still alive, so you want something.” Dinah added dryly.

“Come now, this could be very lucrative for you if you play your cards right. Don't you have a talk show with failing ratings? We could turn that around and it wouldn't even cost you your soul. A bargain.”

There was a long pause, after which Dinah spoke in a nonchalant tone.

“There's an aura shield surrounding the academy.”

“Can you break it?”

“Of course, but not without a binding contract. And you will leave my son alone.”

“Done.”

Chapter Text

Michael and Ms. Meade checked in for a whole week into a rather posh hotel that Mutt and Jeff had recommended and financed. They smugly smuggled Bathory to their room as part of the luggage.

Then, with the help of Dinah Stevens, Michael and Ms. Meade were able to lay waste to Miss Robichaux's Academy for exemplary young women. As he wound his way through the academy, Michael discovered that Cordelia and a few of the other witches and unfortunately escaped and went off grid.

Michael furiously turned to Ms. Meade.

“We failed!” He snarled. “The people we actually wanted to kill got away. Cordelia fucked with my people and all I wanted was her dead. But instead--”

“You're angry.” Commented Ms. Mead. “But it was still a victory. Besides, your destiny is to end the world in a reign of fire, killing those witches ain't gonna do that.”

“You were the one who said that the way to end the world was with magic. You said, either the witches and warlocks stood behind us or we'd kill them!”

“Well that was our plan before, maybe we need to change course?”

“What does that even mean!?”

“It's time to burn the sucker down, and you don't need magic for that.”

“And besides, when you end the world you end the witches.” Michael tried not to pout. That seemed excessive to him, but then again he really really wanted to kill Cordelia and she was like a cockroach—maybe it would take the end of the world to assure that she was truly dead.

After a bit of coaxing on Ms. Mead's part, she convinced Michael to go visit the men at Kineros Robotics (Dumb and Dumber; the Silicon Valley Edition) for help.

*****

They handed him a list, and Michael read it aloud.

“Putin, Buffet, Clinton...”

“Bill, not Hillary.” Mutt commented.

“Kim Young So--”

“Dude controls all the weapons in North Korea.” Mutt interjected.

“I don't get it, how are all these people connected?” Michael asked, exasperated.

“It's a list of one hundred people of the worlds most powerful organization called the Cooperative.” Jeff said.

“And actually this list doesn't exist.” Jeff added, snatching the paper and lighting it on fire.

“Bye list!” Jeff added cheerfully.

“You guys are in the Illuminati.” Michael deadpanned, his eyebrows up to his hairline.

“Well, were that group to exist, yeah you might find some familiar names under the roster...” Mutt said.

“Right under number sixty nine!” he finished smugly.

“Sixty nine!” Jeff repeated gloating and gave Mutt a high five.

“The point is the Cooperative control the money, the arts, the thought, everything. They run the fucking world.” Said Jeff.

“And everyone in the Cooperative has sold their soul to the devil, which means that you control the Cooperative. Daddy set you up, bro.” Mutt said.

“We've been waiting for the anti-Christ. You just tell them what you want and when you want it and they have to do it. They're basically like your army dude.” Jeff said.

“What am I supposed to do with them? If magic wasn't enough to bring about the end of times?”

“I mean, you don't need magic to destroy the world, bro. Not when you have science.” Mutt said.

“Yeah, its humanity. People suck, they're short sighted, all they care about is gratification.” Jeff paused and did a line.

“You get one bad impulse and multiply it by seven billion people—and you get global warming, you get mass extinction.”

“It's the prophecy, bro! You will reign for a thousand years of fire. It's in the book.” Mutt added.

“It's in the good book. You read this book? Revelations.” Jeff continued.

“No, I...” Michael paused, opening the book with his magic to the correct page. Then he got exited.

“What's next?”

*****

Michael very publicly attended venues with Dinah and Stu and Andre during the week, establishing an alibi. Meanwhile, he learned that Mr. Chablis and Mr. Moore were in treasonous communication with witches, so he returned to Hawthorne Academy in secret. There, he slew all the teachers whose apathy had lead to Miriam's vigilante style execution. Then, he arranged the bodies into a pentagram; a message that the witches couldn't possibly miss.

Later that week, the class clandestinely met, and discussed both the war against the witches and Michael's proposed change of venue. As Michael had anticipated, the blame was placed on the missing witches, and anger over their actions cemented any wavering loyalty his classmates might have had. To his surprise, the Hawthorne alumni also proposed to name Michael as the new Chancellor of Hawthorne Academy. The motion passed.

Regrettably, at the end of the week Michael felt it necessary to erase Stu and Andre's memories of himself and Gallant.

*****

Michael and Ms. Mead traveled to the location where they were to meet the Cooperative members.

“This place is so strange.” Michael mused as they walked along a scenic park-like path lined with trees.

“Why would the world's wealthiest .1 percent choose to wear so much flannel and Patagonia?”

“They think true power lies in not flaunting theirs.” Ms. Meade countered. “Idiots.”

“Well I just hope I can pry them away from their horse back riding and hot yellow long enough to convince them to help me.”

“You gotta be kidding me.” Mead said.

“I'm just, I'm nervous.” Michael said and turned to look at Ms. Mead.

“Against all the odds, you found your way to this place, and to the brink of fulfilling your destiny.” Mead said sternly.

“And those people in there are quaking in their overpriced boots, because they know they're about to come face to face with true greatness. You're the one they're waiting for. They've all pledged souls to serving your father and to you. And they're starving for you to show them the way. It's time for you to do what you were put on this earth to do. Destroy it.”

Michael hugged Ms. Mead and entered the building. He walked down darkened passageways with sleek black walls and into a conference room. There, around a long black table sat figures cloaked in black—even their faces were obscured by black gas masks. Michael walked up to the end of the table and leaned over, gloved fingers pressed against the surface. His moment had come.

“Esteemed members of the Cooperative; World Leaders, Tech Giants, Media Moguls, and Cultural Influencers—the rumors you've heard are true. My name is Michael Langdon and I am the anti-Christ.”

They began to whisper and stand up, so Michael silenced them. They sat back down.

“Humanity is at a crossroads; the world as it is today, the poverty, the hunger, the greed, the war. It's no longer sustainable. The time has come to wipe the slate clean.”

“Friends,” He paused and almost smiled as he stared them down “It's time for the Apocalypse.”

They began to whisper again. Michael stood up and left the table.

“I understand your trepidation.” He said in a persuasive tone.

“But let me remind you that you are here because of the gifts bestowed upon you by my father. In return you gave him your immortal souls.” Michael walked back to the table.

“He owns you, therefore, I own you. We speak with one voice and my demands are his.”

“As you can see by the handy guide provided by my associate that I do not intend to leave you and your families to die.” Michael added, as he raised one red gloved hand.

“When fire rains on the unwashed masses you and your families will be safely squirreled away in a network of luxury fallout shelters. You already have the resources--” He paused and looked at one member.

“You just bought land in New Zealand's South Island.” He turned to another. “You own half of Bora-Bora.” He looked at a third. “The bunker underneath your ranch in Texas could easily fit twenty people.”

He turned to face the entire group.

“With a little construction and a little retrofitting, these sites will make the perfect outposts to ride out the end of the world. And with the admission price of a hundred million dollars, only the worthy will gain admission. Turn to page 6, section 1—Outpost construction.”

*****

Two years passed. Michael discovered that he had very little time for any recreation but sleep as he split his time between spying on his boyfriend (ex-boyfriend?), dealing with staffing issues at the newly approved Hawthorne Academy (That new academy was below ground and held the occasional job fair with job openings only in companies that belonged in the Collective.), and his real job as the Anti-Christ.

Chapter Text

 

Gallant awoke, and started to get up, then paused. What was the point? There was nothing to do in this stupid Outpost and anything really fun (like sex) was banned anyway. Not that he was having sex with anyone since everyone was dead.

He humphed as he sprawled back onto the bed.

He was willing to bet even flower guy was dead.

It was weird—two years before the Apocalypse, Gallant had found a single black flower in a yellow Dixie cup on the nightstand by his bed.

He asked Esmeralda, of course, but she claimed not to have put it there, so he forgot about it. Then, exactly one month later, a second flower appeared on his nightstand—only this time it was in purple. He took a photo and matched the image to a flower online; it was called a Dahlia and symbolized elegance.

Did that mean Gallant had a secret admirer? Gallant decided to keep the flower's existence secret as he knew Nana would say that it was a stalker and insist on throwing away the plant. He tried to imagine what his admirer would look like. He'd be someone shy, of course, maybe with blue eyes and blonde curls... As the flowers continued to come once a month, so did Gallant to the image he had created. Unfortunately, the flowers stopped arriving when Gallant got to the bunker.

Once he finished reminiscing, Gallant got up and started to get dressed for the day. It ended up being excitingly horrific; as Gallant and Stu were abruptly subjected to accusations of coming in contact with irradiated materials, brutally hosed down, and then when Stu 'failed' inspection—he, he was shot. And then there was dinner...

That night, Gallant went to bed and cried. He'd only known Stu for a little while, but it felt like he'd known him for years.

*****

Gallant had never imagined that he'd be exited to have snake soup for dinner, but then again, two years ago he would never have imagined eating only half a cube of 'food' a day. He was starving, and he was excited to learn more about the visitor too. He sat down at the table.

“The visitor is in your office?” asked Emily, turning to Venable.

“All questions will soon be answered in due course. Eat.”

The greys lifted the lid off the bowls, only for live snakes to slither away, freaking Gallant the fuck out and causing Emily and Timothy to ask how they could still be alive.

After a moment, they went to the library. A few minutes later, Gallant started to hear footsteps coming down the hall.

Gallant turned his head to look just as the man of his dreams entered the room; long, silken blond hair cascaded down to the shoulders of his black jacket in perfect waves as steely blue eyes accented by red eye makeup (which perfectly matched his shirt) gazed upon the people seated. Not only was he absolutely gorgeous, he looked exactly like the man that Gallant had envisioned in his fantasies...

“My name is Michael Langdon and I represent the Cooperative.”

“Humanity is on the brink of failure: My arrival here was crucial to the survival of civilized life on earth.” He said and paused.

“I've had no contact from the six international outposts and the other American outposts in New York, West Virginia, and Texas have been overrun.”

“What happened to the people inside?” Asked Timothy.

“Massacred.”

“The same thing will happen to almost all of you.”

“Almost?” asked Mallory.

“But don't worry, we built a fail-safe.” Michael said opening his hands and spreading his arms out.

“The Sanctuary.”

“The Sanctuary?” repeated Coco skeptically.

“It has certain measures to prevent an overrun.”

“All that matters is that the Sanctuary will survive, so that the people populating it will survive so that humanity will survive.”

“The cooperative has developed a particular set of rigorous questioning techniques they like to call Co-operating. I will then use the information gained to determine if you belong. For those of you who don't make the cut, all is not lost.” Michael held up a pill.

“Down one of these; one minute later and you fall asleep and never wake up.” He finished softly.

Gallant found himself raising his hand.

“I volunteer to go first.” he said.

“And so you shall.”

*****

The next thing he knew, Gallant was behind closed doors about to be interviewed by the sexiest, most sinister man he had ever met—hoping desperately to impress, and not just so he could go to the Sanctuary.

Michael closed the doors, caressed Gallant's shoulder, then sauntered over to a desk and began the interview.

“I'm not going to tell you what I'll use as qualifications. The things you think could help you, might hurt you. The things you think will hurt you, might be exactly what I'm looking for. Try to trick the system, and I will know. Lie, and I will know, and you will fail—which will result in you being the first to die painfully.”

“Tell me who you really are. Are you Gay?”

“I'm gay,” Gallant replied “but I fucked a girl before in high school. And finished and everything, she did too.” He frowned. “I think, it's harder to tell with girls.”

Gallant wondered if one of the purposes of the Sanctuary was to repopulate the Earth and said as much.

“We have techniques for harvesting genetic material. We still need a woman's womb to incubate the fetus... for now, but your ability to impregnate some poor girl isn't needed.”

“Tell me about your anger. Tell me about your grandmother.”

“Why would you put those two together?” Gallant asked, confused.

“How did she shame you?”

Gallant wondered aloud if that meant that Mr. Langdon had a file on him, but Michael continued to be vague.

Gallant told him about the last time his Nana tried to control him by making him show up to a stupid dinner party so he showed up with a boombox and in bondage gear. Michael's body language shifted from slight boredom to keen interest. He came out from behind the desk and looked down at where Gallant sat on the sofa.

“So you like leather?”

“I like a lot of things.” Gallant said with one eyebrow raised, trying to flirt.

Time to see if he was barking up the wrong tree.

“Are you gay? Because I'm getting a real major hit off of you.”

“Does the thought of that excite you?” Michael perched on the armrest of the sofa and casually draped one hand on the knee closest to Gallant.

“Yes” said Gallant.

“So what are you going to do about it?” he added.

Michael got up, and for a moment it seemed that he was going to go to the door. But then he stopped and sat on the couch next to Gallant, turning his body so that their faces were within inches of each other. The sudden pressure of a hand on his thigh was almost enough to distract Gallant from the soft kiss he received, which he immediately deepened.

Suddenly he stopped—as his mind was bombarded with new memories. Memories of Michael that overlapped with what he remembered four years ago.

He gasped. Michael pulled away and gave him a look.

“You remembered.”

Gallant bit his lip and nodded.

“I don't understand. If you wanted to break up with me why did you send me the flowers every month?”

Michael pulled Gallant towards him and held him tight.

“Because I wasn't, I-I needed you safe...”

“Because of Cordelia.” Gallant paused, then added “Is she dead?”

“I thought so, but at least one of her witches is here so now I'm not sure.”

Michael looked at adoringly at Gallant for a moment and then nodded as if he had decided something.

“I need a new plan, and I think you can help...”

*****The End*****