Little Girls and Little Boys.
Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi walked into the math classroom at lunch, making the door slam and lock. "We've got to talk," she announced. The teacher sneered at her. "I'm here to be Junior's consort. You're in my way. If we have to rumble, we will. That's all there is to it. You can't beat me."
"Says who? You're a little girl, young lady."
"I'm Katherine Corrigan-Arkadi's daughter, bitch, who do you think said I was his future consort?" she sneered back. "As a matter of fact, Benny will do nicely to keep Junior quite well balanced, don't you think? Me as his dark side, him as his light side, and him nicely tucked between us?" She raised a hand and cast a short spell, knocking the teacher across the room and onto her ass. "Now then. You're touching what's mine. What makes you think I can't deal with you? A soul-bride and one of the most powerful chaos people's natural daughter, to be mated with the elemental chaos of the Dibrini line and the Rosenburg line. I will win. You can be sure of it. Me being ten has nothing to do with that." She turned and left the room, leaving the stunned witch sitting there, legs apart at the ankle and touching at the knees, and went to the cafeteria. "Hi," she said sweetly when she saw her men. "Can I hog the spare seat for a bit?"
"Sure," Benny said with a rakish grin. "We were saving it for you anyway." Junior kicked him. "What?" he complained.
"Melanie's looking," Junior hissed.
He had met Melanie earlier and had fallen into instant love with the smart, funny, slightly chubby girl. "We're buddies, Melanie is something more," Benny sighed, staring at her and grinning. She raised an eyebrow and looked at Tricky's back. "We're buddies," he mouthed, "just friends. She's Junior's girl." Then he winked and dug back into his lunch, eating like the starved little kid he was. "So, Tricky, why are you late?"
"Oh, nothing much. One of the teachers wanted to talk to me for a minute."
Junior put down his pizza slice, looking at her. "Stay away from the math teacher, Tricky, she's a cunt and she's been staring at me."
Beatrice reached over to take his hand for a moment. "She won't get me. My bloodline is much stronger than yours," she said quietly. "Mom said you'd be a good influence on me and I'll let you show me where not to go around here." Junior beamed and Benny pouted. "And you, pirate boy, will be our faithful companion on our quests for mischief. Sound delightful?"
"Sure," Benny agreed, grinning at Junior. "As long as I'm not left out."
"Nah, we'd never leave you out, Ben," Junior said smugly. "Who else would I get to wrestle with?"
"Good point," Benny agreed happily. "When should we start?"
"How about after school?" Tricky suggested. "Maybe on the playground?" The boys nodded and dug back into their meals so she pulled out her lunch, sighing at the squashed sandwich. Junior handed over his extra fries and Benny handed her his extra brownie, making her grin. "Thanks, guys. My mom is hopeless in the kitchen." She dug in, it was time to be hungry after all.
Ethan walked into the principal's office, handing over a stack of photos. "Our private investigator found these in a certain math teacher's possession," he said in his usual pert, upper-crust British accent as he took the seat across from the stunned man. "I do believe that they will be quite enlightening. I know you could care less that she's of an off-shoot faith, as could I, but I cannot allow her to harm her newest target."
"Who are you?" the Principal asked quietly, looking at the top picture. "These are some of our former students."
"Go to the next one," Ethan said dryly.
The other man turned the picture, finding the boy child naked, sweaty, and collapsed on a field of what was probably black sheets with candlewax on his skin and his arms and legs bound, while there were cuts on his stomach, chest, legs, and arms. He put the stack down, moving away from him. "Who are you again?" he asked, forcing himself to stay calm.
"Ethan. I'm an uncle to the six-pack of Harris-Osbournes," he said with a small smirk. "The children didn't believe that their parents would be calm enough to handle this situation and I am experienced in covert maneuvers," he admitted smugly.
"Were these gotten legally?"
"No," Ethan admitted. "But you won't take her to court anyway. That would cause a blot on the school system, now wouldn't it?" he asked smoothly. He cast the small spell on the man, making him blink at him. "Hmm, resistant."
"The Headmistress did something to make sure I would be. What is this really about, sir?"
"She's taking any child with any sort of gift and ripping it from their bodies. I believe if you check, those children are all either comatose, considered schizophrenic, or are dead by their own hands."
The man flipped through every other picture, figuring out he was right. He had been on the school's Board of Directors for a while and he had seen each of these children's files cross the meeting table. He put down the stack after five years of children had passed and there was still more to go. "Fine, I can believe that. Who is her current target?"
"Derek William Harris-Osbourne."
"Oh, shit," he said, suddenly getting it. "All of them?"
"No, simply Junior. His family is quite protective of him."
"You can't tell me Serena is natural."
"Actually, if anyone's got a gift, it isn't that one," Ethan admitted casually. "She's simply very self-contained, and more solitary than her fathers would like. Though I did hear something about a corset." He shifted, crossing his legs with a small smirk for the staring man. "As far as I know, and I do know, only Junior would be her target. Xandra takes that personally and the quad take her suggestions on the matter because she is so well trained in security matters." He waved a hand around a bit. "Therefore that teacher will be dead if she tries anything with that boy, or from young Mr. Kowalski, who I believe is close enough to him to be a legitimate target. His father does know, I had a discussion with him about someone hunting Junior recently. He said his son will stick up for Junior and try to protect him as much as possible, but he will get himself out of harm's way. Now, what can you, as a responsible member of the school's governing body, do about this wretched example of bad taste and lack of true skills?"
"You're...you're like her?"
"No, I've never needed an unwilling sacrifice to give myself power, I have plenty already," Ethan said smugly, smirking at him again. "Why would I need that? I can call the greatest of all demons and have them suck my cock for pleasure. I don't need a sacrifice, willing or not." The man swallowed. "Again, how are you going to deal with this and can Xandra and I help? She has expressed an...interest in making sure this woman doesn't hurt her beloved baby brother."
The Principal nodded quickly. "I agree totally. If this is true, then it should be able to be proved. If not, it's baseless allegations, even with the pictures. Some of the board will only go for it if the case is strong enough to go to court with it. They're lawyers you see, and one judge." He swallowed, looking at the height of the stack. "I will advise them of the situation; how we have inadmissable proof that she is harming students. Is she in any of those other pictures?"
"The bottom two she is," Ethan agreed, standing up. "I look forward to watching this spectacle. On the bottom of the stack is my personal card. When you do decide to quit sheltering her, I do know some goody-goodies who would want to have a discussion with her about those other students. Good day, Headmaster." He left, heading out to the car. He did stop to pull out his camera and take a picture of the three girls, getting Precious from behind and then from the front when one of her friends poked her. He sneered at her. "They're being downloaded by your Uncle Rupert as we speak, Precious. Perhaps your skirt should migrate downward again," he said smugly. He smiled at Serena and Xandra. "You two do look adorable. Serena, that is an excellent look on you. That dress had hidden your curves, but it now shows it better. Though I would have suggested a different dress."
"The other was one of her usual ones," Xandra said with a shrug, grinning at him. "Find something good?"
"Dear Lord Below yes," he said with a light sneer. "We'll see, dear one." He looked across the yard, then slowly went paler than usual. "Who is that?"
Xandra knew without looking. "Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi. She's trouble," she stated.
Ethan looked at her and nodded. "Hell yes, girl. Get her away from him. She's been sent to him. Her mother's giving her the chance to make a happy arranged marriage. Though I do believe she and Benny would be able to keep him from exploding in frustration. He probably has his father's lusty nature." He walked away, shaking his head. He got into his car and headed out to the ferry docks. He and his beloved distant cousin had to have a talk and they had to have it right now.
Derek looked up as his door opened and the man he least expected walked in. "What the hell do you want?" he growled.
"Two things. Since when did your grandson have a blood-bride? And I believe it's time we had a discussion about a certain math teacher. Ripper and I found proof that she's been sucking young talents dry and casting them aside."
"Blood bride?" Derek asked, sitting down suddenly, all the fight gone. "Which?"
"Junior, who else?"
"Beatrice," he breathed. Ethan nodded, crossing his arms. It made him look a lot like the Rayne side of the family, especially Winston. "Don't do that, you look horrible." Derek considered it for a moment. It would have to be Junior's decision but they couldn't break up the trio without telling him why and the boy was already paranoid.
"I know what you're thinking, give the boy a book, for Janus' sake," Ethan snapped. "He's a smart little boy. He will realize that people will want to use him. He may be able to turn her to the side of good, but she is Viktor's child. She has his taint, his hair, and his nose. She is beautiful, alluring, and a project that Junior will be able to work on for many years to come. She knows this as well. She picked me out of the crowd on the playground when I left the school, staring very hard at me. She has no idea who and what he is beyond that his mother is Willow and possibly who his father is."
Derek stood up. "Fine, I will talk with the boy and with her. It is my duty."
"Good. Now, what are we doing about this math teacher? The whore gives us all a bad name by picking on children."
Derek raised an eyebrow. "Are you actually turning someone in to us?" he asked in shock.
"Would you rather *I* deal with her?" Ethan asked archly.
Derek slowly shook his head, starting to smirk. "I see. She's inconvenient. You want Junior?"
"Hell no. The boy is unpredictable, impossible, and in lust with his friend and his future blood-bride. I can't teach an elemental, they're not really chaos people, they're void sorcerers." He shrugged and grinned brightly. "Though I am looking forward to my dear Ripper doing his training." He shrugged. "Therefore I will leave him to you and more importantly to his father. Xander should be able to impart the correct version of control. Oz has always had too much, but for magic you have to have some release built into your control."
"I did mine through my music," Oz said from the doorway. "DT?"
"Hmm. They warned her."
Ethan looked at him. "She never stopped and his birthday brought him one year closer. She's done this to many children, she had a foot-high stack of pictures. Two of each, before and after." Oz shuddered. "Exactly. Plus, it's very pleasing that someone found the boy a blood-bride of the old lines."
"Um...." Oz said, trailing off. "Blood bride?"
"A gifted bride of the blood with power at her disposal. Both a helpmate, a keeper, and a source of power," Derek told him. "They're an old chaos sorcerer ideal."
"Katherine was one herself," Ethan instructed calmly. "Now her daughter is, for your son and Ray's son."
Oz shook his head. "Not a chance."
"That's his choice, Oz," Derek reminded him. "If there is some real feeling between them that it is the natural choice. I would not let you force it, nor would I let the girl's mother force the match. We will be watching her much more closely however."
Oz nodded. "Good. 'Cause I can see Xander in orbit over this one," he said bitterly. "And?"
"The math teacher has used up many naturally gifted youngsters but she has no idea what she has in Junior. She thinks he's a normal chaos potential, Oz," Ethan told him. "She has no idea what she's just set her sights on. It'd almost be better if she went after Beatrice. Her powers would be contained. Your son's would explode and make her cinders, which is a personally happy thought for many I suppose, but not at the expense of the young man's sanity."
Oz nodded slower this time. "Cool. We do what?"
"Work subtly on making her disappear I suppose," Ethan said with a small wink for him. "I'm sure you and your mate can think up many interesting things to do with the woman who's victimized so many children." He nodded at his cousin. "I'll leave now before you fear a taint."
"We're related, it was already there," Derek said dryly. "If I bribed you, would you leave the city and never see Rupert again?"
Ethan smirked. "You just made me want to fuck his brains out even more than I did when I woke up this morning to Xandra's phone call while she was tightening Serena's corset." He strolled out, unconcerned about everything. That was the thing about good guys, they did all the hard work and let him watch the fun as it happened. He would be there to take her down, but he wouldn't have to do any of the chasing, the catching, or even the disposal.
Derek leaned back in his chair. "There, now Rupert will be happier with life again," Derek said dryly. "The teacher will be taken up with the whole house, as will Beatrice, Oz. Do not do anything on your own."
"Sure, as long as she doesn't hurt my son."
"She won't," Derek promised. "Go tell Xander and feed him chocolate."
"Sure, bossman. Did you remember to clip the article about the party for Xandra?" He walked away, heading to call Rupert. "There had better be pictures of my daughter in a corset," he warned as the other man picked up. "Expect to be jumped too. Ethan's in a mood." He hung up, leaning back to figure out how to tell Xander. His mate would be quite upset.
Junior watched Beatrice watch him out of the corner of her eye and sighed. He got up and walked over to her, tugging on her sweater as he walked past her into the side hall. There weren't any classes down there and the art teacher was usually in the student lounge all this period , so they'd be fine. She walked out, looking confused. "Who sent you?" he asked, looking her over. "And why?"
"My mother did. She wanted me to make your acquaintance and see if anything would come between us. She knows you need strong friends. I must say, you've got one hell of one in Benny Jr., but you can use someone who understands that need to do the magic."
"I don't do magic, Tricky. I don't like my skills, they're ripping me away from my family and I hate them." She looked stunned. "I'd rather just be a normal kid any day of the week. Even if I can use them to save people, I'd probably still want to be a normal person. I hate these things," he said coolly. "They're driving my family away."
She stepped forward and hugged him. "It'll be okay, Junior. I swear it will. Mom thought you might like me, that's why she put us together. I'm never going to do anything that you're uncomfortable with, even though I don't understand that white light streak you and Benny have."
"It's an innate thing," Benny said as he joined them, looking at Junior. "Issues?"
"She was sent to date me by her mom," Junior snorted.
"Yeah, well, some kids transferred in to get next to Precious too," Benny pointed out dryly. "They're still chasing the pretty socialite slut. Their words of course." Junior shuddered, looking sickened. "Well, yeah, who'd want something like her? I prefer brains." He looked at their newest buddy. "Are you or are you not going to cause us trouble?"
"No, but I figure we can learn from each other. I have no idea why white lighters do what they do. You two don't understand my side of the fence. Plus, I can help Junior when he slips up and his gifts come out suddenly. In return, I learn from you guys, I'm not being given to another chaos person as a child blood-bride like mother was, and I get real friends who know nothing about demonic summoning."
Benny nodded once. "Fine. We all have reasons we hang. Junior understands the people I can see. I understand his shit. We both understand your reasons, but we will keep it real and honest between us."
"I agree," she said, holding out her hand. "Still buddies?" she asked hopefully. "I've never had them."
"Still buddies," Benny agreed, shaking her hand. He grinned at Junior. "You too, man."
"Oh, I agree," he assured them, putting his hand on top of theirs. "We're still buddies, but I want to know first if she tells you to do something with me or the family. Think about it as getting back with her for giving you away."
"Deal," Tricky said with a smirk. "Who was Mr. Chaos this morning?"
"That was Uncle Ethan," Benny told her. "Rupert's boyfriend. He runs a bookstore in town for people like Junior to learn at."
"He also identified my skills," Junior admitted, looking at Benny. Benny shrugged, letting him make his decision.
"Sweetheart, anyone with any sort of *real* power can tell you take most everything from the sperm side of the equation that created you," Tricky pointed out. "From your pretty latte colored skin to your little eyes, to the power that glows from you bright enough to light up the damn city." She hugged him gently. "I will help, because otherwise she'll make me do more. She's already said that we three are an item in her mind and in the mind of her controllers. Viktor is still around somewhere, he's not dead, and she can talk to him."
Junior pulled back to look at her. "Then you're leaving the cunt's house."
"I can't, Junior. She'll know."
"Yay! You're our buddy, and we will protect you as long as you don't try to jump me," Junior told her.
A lower-pitched voice cleared their throat behind him. "Then the proper procedure would be to come to the meeting tonight in the main park and ask a certain former Watcher to move off your island to take her in," he said calmly. "Or one of the others of us who do practice but aren't that powerful. Miss Corrigan-Arkadi, I'm surprised I don't have you."
"I suck at art, sir."
"Ah." He smirked. "We can't all be talented in each and every field. Boys, I will let you in on a secret. She will probably have you sometime in the future, or her mother will force her to move on, but that is *her* decision if you should allow the choice to be made. Otherwise, you two make a cute couple, Benny." He grinned at them. "Now, you three should be in your study hall. Go back to it. Junior, Beatrice, know that you can come to me anytime and for anything. I am one of those who is a confidant and a teacher. Tonight, during all the practices, Junior, you will be coming to me to help with your shields. You as well, Beatrice. Yours are full of holes from puberty's wrongness taking over your body."
"Yes, sir," they agreed.
"What about me?" Benny asked.
"You'll be taught to guard them while they work. They do have complimentary styles. Her mother picked well for her daughter, but his father didn't have that chance."
"My father's coming in a few weeks," Junior admitted, frowning at him. "How long have you known?"
"Since the math teacher got here and she made my hackles stand on end." He bowed, smiling at them. "Do trust some of us and not others. I do recognize Xandra for what she is, and Timmy for his position by default. We have no problems since this is a neutral zone for all packs." He turned and left, heading back to his classroom.
"Okay, is the school always this freaky?" Tricky asked.
Junior shrugged and Benny nodded. "Probably," they agreed. They looked at each other. "Brandon?" they suggested in unison.
"He's got a study hall next period," Tricky noted. Junior gave her an odd look. "I wanted to stay out of their way for a bit so I memorized their schedules too," she assured him. "Xandra is a fierce bitch in your protection. My mother doesn't want to go against her and your father Xander." She took their arms, leading them back into the library. "Come on, I've got to get this new algebra equation down and I'm stuck like a poser truck in a swamp."
Junior snickered. "I like that one." He came over to help her with his limited understanding. Benny was much better at the areas and stuff, while he was better at the language stuff. Tricky looked to be really good in the sciences so they'd compliment each other pretty well. Maybe she wasn't so bad? He glanced up at her and she kicked him under the table, glaring at him. "Mean brat," he hissed. "Ow!"
She smirked. "Then pay attention. Such mean and evil thoughts are my bailiwick, boy. Learn your place and you'll be a happy little sandwich filling." She smirked at Benny, who was laughing. "See?"
"Yeah," Junior snorted. "Because I can't kick your ass at basketball," he said dryly. He went over the next problem, slowly working it out for her. "I know I'm missing something."
Benny looked over. "The minus sign."
"Oh. Okay." Junior put it in and the problem became much more reasonable. "There. Think you can follow that?" She nodded, doing the next one. "Good job. Now, about this chemistry table?"
"We'll get help. We only have to memorize ten and then we get to have some help from our chart," she promised.
"Good. 'Cause I'm stuck."
Yeah, this could work. Maybe. If he decided he liked girls.
Rupert leaned against the side of his and Ethan's car as he watched the police pull up to the stupid teacher's house. She was in there, he had called it in, but he was up the street a bit, looking like he was waiting on a friend to come out of another house. He nodded politely at one who looked his way, then smirked when he saw the people they were dragging inside as the lead detectives. Good, they were taking it quite seriously. Really, had the woman thought that Ethan's little plan was the only thing they had going on? He smirked when he heard the shrieking, getting into his car to pull further down the street since he could see the rightful owner of the driveway coming home. The guy stopped his car to let him back out and Ripper gave him a friendly wave and a nod at the neighboring house as an explanation. The driver stared in shock as the teacher was drug out and an ambulance screamed up the street, belatedly realizing he could get into his driveway now and probably should to get out of the way. Rupert parked at the local park, watching from farther away as the woman was drug off in handcuffs and her most current victim was taken to the hospital. He looked over as he felt some magic go off, frowning at the young girl. "I am going to destroy that transport ring," he said in disgust.
"Why? It keeps me from nagging you adults to get me ice cream and tampons," Precious said with a shrug. "You got nominated to give us driving lessons."
"There's no fucking way in hell," Giles said firmly. "You have two parents, multiple grandparents, and even Ethan. I'm not doing this again."
"Fine, don't love us then. You can explain to Xandra why she can't have a motorcycle until she goes to college. Daddy Oz said so," she said smugly. "By the way, I need to stop at the store."
"I figured as much," he said bitterly. "I'm not teaching you anything." He moved the car closer because the ambulance moved off and more cops he knew were appearing on the scene.
"Obviously," she agreed coldly, glaring at him. "Leaving me alone now?"
"You have two parents," he repeated. "Both of which know as much as I do most of the time."
"Whine, yawn, bored now," she retorted. "You're a watcher, I'm a potential, and I'm being left alone!"
"Oh, boo hoo," he said dryly. "It's not like you don't have a whole house full of watchers and I am not a watcher anymore, young lady. So get over it now. You have an official watcher coming, Jon said so."
"Fine," she said, sulking a bit. "I'll just have Xandra beat his ass and send him away."
He snickered. "I'd like to see her try." He mentally cheered when the ego that would not die deflated some. "Thank you. Now, I believe you do know what the ferry and a cab are, Precious. You should take into account that wherever you're going to be stationed might not have public transportation. Learn to walk, dear. It's good for you, it'll work off that bulged spot on your ass where the boys like to grip you." She gave him a dirty look. "Unlike your fathers, I know what you've been doing before cheerleading practice," he said smugly. "Or more like who I do believe I meant."
"I'm not hurting anyone."
"Do you really want to turn into what your mother is now?" he demanded.
He smacked her across the back of the head, all he could reach comfortably. "Do not talk so. You are not adult enough to swear yet. You are a spoiled, pampered, whiny, bitchy, overblown, narcissistic, whore of a little girl who needs to be taught manners and how to behave properly around *real* people. Until you grow up, no one will ever do anything for you, pay any attention to anything you say, nor will they help you any. I certainly won't since I *know* what you're like."
"Fine," she said, getting out and slamming the door. One of the cops looked her way and she sniffled. "He's mean."
One of the detectives looked at her, then at the teacher. "You go to where she works, right?" She nodded. "She got any victims out there we should talk to?"
Rupert got out of the car before she could open her mouth. "Her little brother, who she does not get along very well with."
"I wasn't going to keep them from talking to Junior!" she shouted, turning to glare at him. "I'm not like you think I am, Uncle Rupert. I do have layers. Most of the ones *you* see are a facade. You have no idea who and what I really am." She stomped off.
"Midol moment?" the cop asked.
"She's turning into a whore and I told her so," Rupert admitted. "I refuse to cover for her any longer. Her fathers and I are going to have a long talk tonight." He nodded at the other detective. "I do believe Junior is at Detective Kowalski's flat this afternoon, gentlemen. She was blatantly passing notes to him during his class with her and making her favoritism and intentions quite clear. We've kept the parents out of it so far."
"Ah, so that's why you're here," the first detective said grimly. "He okay?"
"So far she's only made innuendoes, offers, and suggestions. We didn't want the parents to go to jail for homicide in the first degree."
The detectives looked at the woman, then back at him. "Interesting. Anything else?"
"The current principal was handed a stack of pictures one of our friends found of some of her victims. She was in two of them from what I understand," he said grimly, moving closer. "We've been trying to keep this quiet for the sake of the children hurt by her. Junior doesn't need the attention and neither do her other victims. Ethan's stack was nearly a foot high." The people shuddered. "Before and after I believe he said."
The second detective looked at him. "Why is a white lighter like you hanging out with a chaos magnet like Ethan Rayne?"
"Former friendship," he said dryly, frowning at him. "The stupidity of youth. Really. Trust me on this, they come back." The cops laughed and went to deal with the scene, leaving him there. They knew he knew what to do at a crime scene.
Ray walked into his apartment and tossed his keys at his kid. "Go play," he ordered.
"Fine, father, have a cop moment with Junior," Benny sighed, taking Tricky with him to his room and closing the door.
"I'd better not hear anything remotely out of the ordinary or forbidden," he shouted after them. He sat down next to Junior but turned to face him. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. She only hinted, suggested, passed notes, gave me favorite student status, and made my life a living hell among the other kids," Junior said dryly. "Did they arrest her?" Ray nodded. "Good. They get her on something they can keep her on?"
"Oh, yeah," he sighed. "She had another kid in her house. The kid's fine," he said when Junior opened his mouth. "Even your granddad said so." He patted the boy on the back. "I want you to know that you can talk to me about this if you can't talk to your dads. They're cool and all but I know how hard it is to talk to parents sometimes."
"No, I'm good on her," Junior admitted hesitantly. "She's like what Precious could become, only she'd never hurt kids." He shifted some. "Uncle Ray, is it wrong to want more than one person and have dirty thoughts about them? I asked Daddy Xander but he just burst out crying and walked off shaking his head. I think I gave him bad Mom memories since he had ice cream for dinner that night with all the toppings and it wasn't sugar free."
Ray gave him a long look, then glanced at his son's closed door, then back at the boy in front of him. "Uh-huh." He smirked at him. "Little fast there, kiddo."
"I've known Benny since we were both toddlers," Junior reminded him hopefully. "You know I'd treat him right."
"I meant her, kid." He ruffled the dark hair. "If you two go for it, I'll expect you to remain friends, no matter what. Got it?" Junior nodded. "And I'll expect you to treat him well. No all-night fights where my boy comes crying on me again." He gave the younger man a long look. "And nothin' for a few more years, kid. Neither of you are ready."
"Oh, I know, but I'm at that age where things start to occur." He gave a helpless shrug. "I can't control it."
"You never will," Ray sighed. "So, what about her?"
"It's more complicated," Junior admitted. "Her mom's hoping something will happen between us. We decided to be friends and protect her, but I don't know why I'm feeling such strong feelings toward her."
Ray nodded and gave him a hug. "If it does, it does," he noted. "That's the best way as long as you try to remain friends and you don't push things to happen." He stood up. "The cops wanna talk ta ya. Wanna come with me?"
"Hell no," Junior snorted. "Do I have to?" Ray shook his head. "Can I do it here? Benny knows everything anyway and Tricky was probably her next target. She seems to like kids like me and her."
"You and her," he said slowly, staying calm. "Like you, her, and Precious?"
"Like me, her, and Ethan and Ripper," Junior admitted quietly.
"And Benny," he said flatly.
"Oh, no, she couldn't tell him at all, Uncle Ray. He's so hidden that no one outside us kids and you and Daddy Xander know. Not even Granddad knows. He might suspect, but he doesn't know."
"Good." Ray grinned again and brushed back some of his hair. "Let me call one'a the guys to come take a statement. It'll be easier and you can be cuddled at the time. Ya want a family member?"
"Why? You are family. You always have been, ever since you presented me with your son as a gift." Ray snorted, shaking his head. "Okay, so not a gift? Does that mean I can't treat him like a priceless gift?"
"No, ya'd better do that," Ray assured him, grabbing the phone to call his boss. "The kid said he didn't wanna come down, but he said it was okay if someone came here as long as I stayed. Nah, I'm nearly family and it's good enough for him." He hung up and sat down again. "So, you, Benny, and her?" he asked finally. "Does he know?" Junior sighed and nodded, curling into his side. "Then it'll happen if it does," Ray repeated, mentally chanting that phrase until he could see himself believing it. Otherwise he might be tempted to send his son to the frozen north to live with his namesake at the Mountie academy.
Oz gave Xander just enough time to get out of sight then followed him out to the garage. It'd be enough time for him to calm down, long enough not to scream at him at least. He took the staplegun from his mate's hand, shaking his head. "We can't do that, Xan."
"I can so!" he insisted, making a grab for it. "Just one on either side of her panties, just to hold them in place. She'll be able to use the bathroom if she's careful." He tried another grab but Oz tossed it away and grabbed him instead. "Hey! I don't want to cuddle, I want to maim and destroy!"
"I know, which is why you're getting cuddles," Oz said calmly. "No matter how much we'd like to we can't. We can ground her, we can make her quit cheerleading, we can do all sorts of stuff, but we can't staple real clothes on her body. It would be wrong and we'd end up defending ourselves to social workers or a judge." He soothed his husband, gentling him down to a rational level. "You're the planner, Xan, give us one," he requested finally.
Xander considered it, then nodded once. "I think it's time our little girl has another discussion with someone." He got free and kissed his mate. "Don't wait up." He stole his keys from Oz's pocket and stomped toward the garage and his car. He had enough time to get a ferry back to the mainland and his daughter wouldn't be expecting him tonight, not while she had her magic lessons. She always came back on her own afterwards so she would have time to let the excess energy radiate off her. So when he walked into the bookstore, his little girl was quite shocked, but not as shocked as when he grabbed her and drug her away. "She'll be back in a few weeks, when she's not grounded," he called as he stomped back out with her. He shoved her against the side of the car. "Get in," he growled. She shivered but did as he ordered, buckling up without being nagged. He got in and took off again, heading for a worse part of town. He cruised for a bit then ran into someone he had seen a few months back during a case. He pulled up beside the trio of working girls, the working guy, and the pimp. Then he got out and looked across the roof of the car at the ladies. "Ladies, I have need of your services in relation to my daughter. She's doing four boys now. This makes nine so far this year." They all winced. "And she's doing it for free. I'd like for you three to have an honest, up-front, graphic talk with my daughter so she understands exactly what she's risking and how she'll be joining you if she doesn't quit. How much for say an hour?"
The pimp looked at him, then at the girls. "For all three? A hundred fifty." He smirked at him. "You sure you don't need nothin' else?"
"My husband would get really pissed at me if I did," he said dryly. He slammed his door and handed the pimp the money before letting his daughter out of the car. "Here, have her." He sat on the hood, glaring at her back while the ladies led her away to talk with her. He knew they'd tell her about being a runaway, having to do this for life, not making ends meet so having to do something outside of their comfortable ranges of play, and all that good stuff. Plus diseases, bad johns, the prices of playing that way, and how it looked like she was going to joining them if she didn't straighten up because it looked like her father was going to kick her out of the house. Xander looked behind him as a car stopped, and the cop got out with an open mouth and a raised finger. "My daughter's a slut, I brought her to the experts to find out why that was bad. She's fifteen and she's slept with nine different guys so far this year. Four of them currently." The cop nodded and got back in, going away. He went back to watching his daughter grow paler and paler until she finally burst out in tears. "Good. Now you know what to expect when we kick you out for continuing this behavior," Xander said firmly, not caving on this. "Because if you continue, your grandfather won't stand up for you, your uncles won't stand up for you, your aunts won't stand up for you, and your other father sure as hell won't stand up for you, Precious. Do you understand where this little habit of yours is coming from?" She nodded, running over to hug him. "Now then, we're going to have a long talk, daughter," he said more calmly. "Get in the car, we're going home."
"Yes, daddy," she whispered as she got into the passenger's seat. "Thank you." She waved at the women. She waited until he had gotten in and started to drive before saying anything else. "Daddy, did you know two of them had children?" she asked quietly.
"I'm not surprised. Statistically speaking at least a quarter of all the prostitutes in the city do have children," he admitted. "For that matter, you had better be taking your pills religiously."
"I am," she assured him quickly. She wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry, dad."
"Not half as sorry as you're going to be," Xander warned. "I'm having a moment when I want to beat you, daughter. That says something to me." He pulled up to wait on the ferry, checking his watch. The last one hadn't ran yet. So he turned to look at her. "I will not allow that, daughter. You may have a boyfriend. You will not have a lover at your age. You will not have multiple lovers at your age or at any age. That's disrespectful and dangerous. For that matter, you will never go to another orgy again. You are *fifteen*," he hissed, glaring at her. "You are too young to know what you're doing to your body. I doubt you asked for health scans of these boys and I doubt they gave you current HIV tests." She slumped. "Not to mention how fucking dumb it was to be sleeping around on a fucking jock who was obviously taking steroids!"
"They knew," she admitted, looking at her lap. "It was fun, dad," she offered, glancing at him. She saw his face cloud up and got out of that car as fast as she could. "I'm sorry, dad," she cried, starting to tear up again. "I didn't want to upset you. I know I was wrong. Please, Gods, dad!" He got out, looking across the roof at her. "I won't ever do it again. I swear, I'll never do it again. I won't touch another boy until I'm eighteen. I won't touch a girl until I'm eighteen either," she vowed, pleading with him. "I swear, I won't date if I can help it, I'll tell any and all dates that I'm not sleeping with them, and I'll keep them from ganging up on me again. I promise, no more orgies with the football team."
"There had better not be," he said coldly. "Get your ass back in this car before someone realizes what you've been doing and you make it into the paper." She hurried back and got inside, but he stayed outside to breathe the tainted air. There was a lot of nasty smells down at the dock, but none as strong as she was. He got back in and started the car, turning it around to take her to an all-night clinic. He walked her inside and shoved her at the nurse. "She needs checked out. She was sleeping with four guys at once." The nurse winced. "Yeah, and she's off in the smell department. Trust me, this is not her normal stench and it's not a new perfume."
"We'll check her out right away, sir. Would you care to sit down and wait?"
"I'd really like to beat her, but I'm sure that would look bad," he said bitterly. "Nine guys this year. She just got another earnest and in-depth discussion from a few working girls so can you give her the one from your end as well?"
She smirked. "Of course I can," she agreed. "I'd love it, sir. Just go ahead and sit down with the paperwork. We're not busy right now so we'll take her right back." She led the girl back and stuck her in a room. "Get undressed, get onto the table, the doctor's going to be doing a pelvic on you." She walked away, going to get the doctor off her lunch break. "Young one this time," she said dryly, leaning in the breakroom. "Can't be more than sixteen. Her father said she was sleeping with four guys earlier and nine so far this year."
"Shit," the doc said, wiping her mouth. "The girl all right?"
The nurse smirked. "He took her down to some pros to talk to them about her career path," she said smugly. "We get her now and he said something about her normal stench being off."
"Who is she?"
"Socialite. I saw her in the paper recently. The granddaughter of that Rayne guy out on the island." The doctor winced. "Yeah, so the father's doing all he can to keep her a bit under control. Have fun with her."
"Oh, I will," the doctor agreed. "They're always such fun. I was one once. Then I went to medical school and pissed off my family." She went to take the forms from the father, smiling gently at him. "Are you sure it was consensual?"
"She snuck out, she fell on her back a number of times. She likes stringing multiple guys together," he said blandly. "I have no idea where I fucked up, the other kids are perfectly normal, sane, and happy. Even my daughter that's been taking guard and weapon training is normal and happy as long as she's got her weapons and her leather." He looked up at her. "I don't understand her," he admitted bitterly. "I want to, I want to help her, but right now I want to kill the little bitch and I want to staplegun her clothes to her body once I put her in a decent outfit." The doctor sat down next to him. "I've also got some pretty sensitive smell capabilities and she's stinking all to hell. I couldn't stand to have her in the car," he admitted quietly. "We tried working it out with our doctor, with a shrink her other father and I work with sometimes, with the former priest who works with us, with just us a number of times, with the whole family one other time, and even tried it earlier with some pros. I even tried calling her mother to talk to her and her mother's an abusive little bitch who beat her before we knew about it," he admitted coldly, staring at the floor, his hands holding his head again. "We had to stop her then and I'm almost sorry we did."
"I know," she soothed, patting him on the back. "The leather one doesn't sound all that sane," she offered.
He chuckled. "Xandra lives for her tough image. She's good to go. She's happy and sane and she knows her weapons protocol. The closest she gets to hurting others is playing bouncer at school dances." He looked at her. "The others are happy. They've got a bunch of things they like and they've got plenty of areas that interest them. The leather-wearing one likes robots, and she's damn good at it. Maybe it's because they're a quad, but the other three in the quad are normal and so are the two younger ones. I don't know what's wrong with her, but I want to fix her. I'm inches away from kicking her out and I'd hate myself if I had to."
"Then let me try. My family was big in banking so I'm from a similar background," she soothed. "Maybe it'll help."
"If you can, I'd love it. Otherwise she might be going to the hospital later tonight, or I will when my blood pressure keeps spiking."
"We'll check yours, even though it's normal to feel stress about this. If she were mine, I'd feel stress too," she promised, going back to deal with the girl. She tapped lightly before walking in. "Good, you're ready. Was it consensual?" She nodded, looking bitter. "Then let's make sure you haven't picked up anything nasty from the boys you thought were so you." She pulled on a set of gloves and pulled over the exam tray that she pulled out of a drawer. "I'm sure you've had one of these. Scoot toward me and put your feet in the stirrups." She paused when she heard feet go running past and groaned. "Stay there." She got up and headed out to check, but it was the father turning a bit blue in the face. She relieved her nurse to call the ambulance while she checked his blood pressure. "Just relax, Mr. Harris-Osbourne, it'll be fine. I'll call your mate. Is it on her forms?" He nodded, gasping for breath. "Get me some oxygen!" she called. "And an aspirin just in case!" The nurse retrieved the items and they got the poor father settled until the paramedics could get there. She let the nurse call the family home, she was always better at breaking bad news. Then she went back to the daughter to check her over. "Your other father should be on his way down," she said as she walked in. "The one who brought you in just got taken to the hospital for a big spike in his blood pressure." The girl started to cry again. "Oh, no, it's much too late for tears," she said coldly. "Feet in the stirrups so you're done by the time they get here to retrieve you."
Philip walked Precious into the hospital's ward, smiling gently at the nurses who had taken care of Derek just a few weeks earlier. "It's her Da," he said calmly. "She wanted to check on him."
"As long as he stays calm," the nurse said, smiling at him. "Children can make parents so hyper. Why was he down at that clinic? It seems like an odd place."
Precious coughed. "I needed a small cut looked at," she lied, heading into the room. Her other father gave her a cold look. "I'm sorry, dad. I'll reform myself," she whispered as she slowly moved closer. She could see the yellow hints in his eyes and she knew he was inches away from wolfing out on her and ripping her to shreds. "I won't ever do it again. Please?" she pleaded.
"We'll see," he said coldly. "Go home, Precious. Now."
"Yes, sir. Tell him I'm sorry?"
"No, that's a discussion you need to have yourself," Oz told her. "Home, now."
"Yes, sir." She walked out, chin up slightly, but Philip gave her a long look. "Daddy Oz is in there and he's still pissed," she said, sounding defeated.
"I'd be too," Philip agreed. He walked in to check on them. "He gonna live?"
"Yeah, he's fine and Marcus has already been up once," Oz promised, hugging him. "Beat her for me, okay?"
Philip nodded. "Sure, Oz. Then we'll get her test results in three days together." He gave Xander a long look, then looked at the younger man. "You'll be fine?"
"Yeah, I'll survive. We've done a lot of this," he said dryly. "Have fun with her. She stinks to high hell."
"That's probably why Xander took her to the doc's." Philip gave him a hug then left, taking the girl home via the boat he had brought over. She stayed at the house, locking in the guest suite so none of the others could attack her, and he went to reassure Nick and Derek. "He'll be fine, Oz said so," he said calmly as he walked in. "She's got to get test results in three days. Oz said she stunk."
"She does," Derek agreed. "I can smell her still." He took a sip of his drink, then looked at Nick. "We'll go over in the morning to let Oz come home for a bit."
Nick nodded, sipping his stout. "Yeah. I can do that. The kids and school?"
Xandra came off the back stairs. "We can go on our own with a guard," she offered. "The rest of us agreed that it wasn't going to help him any to sit around and worry. Is he all right?"
"Oz said he'd be," Philip assured her, giving her a small pat on the arm. "He'd know best."
"Marcus said it was an extreme blood pressure spike," Derek said between sips. Then he sighed and put down his empty glass. "He'll be fine, Xandra. Your sister may not be however."
"Hmm. We've noticed the smell of decay ourselves," she admitted. "Brandon's all for burning her at the stake at the moment and Serena wanted to do that neat thing where you tie each limb to a horse and then make them run in different directions before burning her at the stake." The adults shuddered. "Junior and I were for a more humane end. He suggested she go live on the streets and I was more than willing to put her out of her misery for the 'rents. So whatever you decide, we'll probably like," she finished.
Philip gave her a hug. "He brought her down to talk with a few working girls," he shared. "They had a long talk with her before he took her to the clinic."
"I'm just glad he was somewhere like that when it happened," Nick said, shivering a bit. "If they had been on the ferry it could have been really bad." He finished his stout and tossed the bottle, then grabbed another one. "I'm going to bed. Anyone want to cuddle?"
Xandra got free and cuddled him. "It'll be all right, Uncle Nick. He's fine. We won't let the whore hurt him too much. Remember, that's why they make year-round boarding schools." She let him go and hugged her grandfather before heading back up the stairs. "Dad should be fine," she announced when she ran into Timmy. "I didn't even put in your suggestion of gutting her, putting fire ants in her intestines, then stuffing them back in haphazardly so she could be sewn back up. Or the neat one with the firebrands and her breasts. They didn't look like they were ready for that."
Timmy hugged her. "It's okay. We understand. I scared myself," he offered. He walked her back to her room. "We should sleep. I'm going to rant to my lady and possibly start on a new storyline. We'll work on something this afternoon." She nodded, going in to climb into bed. He turned and went back to his computer and his girlfriend, seeing the nun staring at the camera. "Hello, Sister Carmine. It's Timmy. My father's in the hospital. Is she missing again?" he asked bitterly.
"What's happened this time?"
"My sister's a whore and he had an astounding blood pressure spike," he admitted. "My other father's sitting with him at the hospital."
"That's fine, boy. Try to keep these chats at a minimum. Her grades will slip again and we'll be forced to take her computer."
"Yes, Sister," he said patiently. She disappeared and his angel came back. "Is she gone?" he mouthed. She nodded and he grinned at her. "Dad should be fine, we think. The bitch is back at the house too, stinking it all up."
"Maybe it's some sort of mental problem, Timmy. Like maybe she's a nympho or something."
"She was sleeping with an incubus and teaching her boyfriend the tricks of the trade. She's only disgusting, dear, really. Even Serena wants to torture her this time." She gaped and he nodded. "Seriously. I should write a cool new storyline but I doubt I could do the graphics justice."
"No, but getting that urge outside yourself is probably for the best," she offered gently. "I'm sure you'd rather not gang up on her and kill her." He nodded, smiling at her. "Now, where were we?"
"You were moaning my name because I was giving you a virtual foot massage after your gym class today," he offered. "It was taking my mind off my father's newly worsened blood pressure."
"Yeah," she sighed, looking happy. "I'll get to be up this weekend if you wanted or needed. The sister said so."
"That'd be cool," he agreed happily. "I'll talk to grandfather in a minute. Now, where was I?"
"Pushing the towel back, but I think we should start over," she offered with an impish grin. "It will definitely take your mind off her."
"Yeah, it will," he agreed. He picked up the phone and dialed his grandfather's room. "Hey. My lady wanted to know if she could come up this weekend. Would that be a problem?" He grinned and shrugged at her. "Thanks, Uncle Philip. No, moral support. I wanted to gut her, put fire ants in her intestines, then shove them back inside her however they would fit most painfully before sewing her back up and watching her slowly die." He grinned and then chuckled. "I know. I'm writing it out tomorrow. I need to get it outside of myself and she's very good at that." He smirked at his girl. "Of course I'm being careful and quiet. Do you think I want the others to hear us? I'm giving her a virtual backrub. Laters. Granddad." He hung up and looked at her. "We're a go for this weekend. You'll keep me from fidgeting."
"Sure, baby, anytime," she agreed with her cute British accent, making the endearment a honeyed syllable full of promise.
Junior walked into Ethan and Rupert's shop after the next day's school, glancing around, then at the man behind the counter. "Are we alone? I need information badly."
Ethan glanced around then nodded, leading the boy back to his office. "What's the problem? Are you feeling the magic surging or is it something else."
"No, I'm figuring the surges are hormones and anger at the moment," he said bitterly as he sat down. He looked at his uncle. "I normally wouldn't come to you about any of this, but you know we don't keep many paranormal texts that aren't directly in the 'this is how you fight them' category and I need strange and ritual knowledge. The only person who might know is Uncle Philip and I'm loath to approach him." He got comfortable in the seat he chose. "What exactly is a blood bride? What do I do about her and the feelings I started to have for her, and more importantly the ones I have for Benny as well, which feel exactly the same? Is there something we can do to free her? I don't think I'd mind her as much if she wasn't being thrown at my feet. Plus, you know, gotta love the motherly sort. My own is presently tormenting the teacher in jail nightly, but her mom beats mine for bitch of the century from what I've been told. So, how bad is this exactly?"
Ethan gulped some air and sat across from the boy. "Those are some very wise questions," he agreed calmly. "The first is that a blood bride is someone who is being offered to you as a spouse, a helpmate, and a way for the more powerful lines to continue. It is almost always someone who was already in the life and it's an older custom that's not much done today. I nearly had one but Ripper backed off," he admitted. "His father would have allowed it if I hadn't botched the ritual."
"There's a bonding ritual but I had doubts and it botched it rather badly," Ethan admitted with a small sigh of remembered pain. "Then again, we would have killed each other long ago had I succeeded," he shared. He looked at the boy. "You feel the same way about your male friend?" Junior nodded. "It's not unheard of to take a blood bride and have a lover on the side," he admitted. "It's usually someone who's already gay. A blood bride's sole purpose is to be a vessel for your working, a pot that holds power and holds your future offspring until they're ready to be born. They may chop, brew, or do other things with you but they are there as your helpmate, not as an equal."
"That sucks, especially since she's more powerful."
"No, she has more training," Ethan corrected firmly. "She is not more powerful than you are. She has power right now but it comes and it goes I'm sure." Junior shrugged. "As for what to do with her? That would be up to you. If you haven't done the bonding ritual yet than she has the right to change her mind. Her mother may give her to a demon for doing so, but she does have that right," Ethan offered gently.
"Which sucks worse," Junior pointed out grimly. "Can I break her free of that?"
"It's not a compulsion or anything, Junior, it's more a meeting of things that would get along quite well. You and she do get along, as evidenced by the feelings you three share. Tell me, does she like Benton as much?" Junior nodded, brushing back some of his hair. "Then it's wise to think about this now. Power calls to power, Derek. The same as you and Benton are friends because you were put together so much, his powers call out to yours. Yours are still higher ranking than both of theirs. So they feel a lot of attraction to you as well. You have to be careful or else you'll hurt the girl unnecessarily."
"Hey, that's why I'm here," Junior pointed out, shifting again. "I'd like to not hurt either of them, Uncle Ethan, but you know how these things go." He shifted back. It was weird talking to this man about such things. "So, she's basically from a good bloodline, hence the blood part, and she's being offered to me as a bride, but it's all in our heads because it's power attraction and we're not being compelled. Right?" Ethan nodded, smiling at the boy. "Okay, so what about the three of us thing?"
"As I said, it's not unheard of," Ethan said gently. "I can easily explain this to you three, but I fear Benton's father might not like his son getting that information from me."
"Well, yeah, but he knows I like Benny *that* way," Junior admitted, managing not to blush. "He knows about Tricky too. His advice was to be careful, take it slowly, and to treat his son like the most precious being in the universe. Or else." Ethan smirked at that. "Which, you know, I agree with fully," Junior offered immediately. "I'd never do anything like that to Benny. I like Benny, even though he likes girls. Whole 'nother matter entirely," he pointed out. "So, can I get around this and stay friends with her?"
"If you so desire. As long as she knows you don't intend to go farther," Ethan suggested. Junior nodded quickly. "Then I see no harm in it. I would have a long talk with your parents when they get home. They need to know what you know and you need to know some things from them I would assume," he offered.
"Cool. I can do that," Junior agreed, nodding quickly. "Okay, another topic. My natural father is coming over the holidays. Has he announced any sort of itinerary or ETA?"
Ethan broke out in gentle laughter. "We don't usually announce ourselves when we go visiting, young man. Though I usually do warn Ripper when I'm coming, I don't warn others."
"Um, eww, Uncle Ethan. I think it's great and all that you can still get it up, and it gives me great hope for my future, way in the future, but I didn't need to know that much about you and Uncle Ripper. I mean, seriously here. You're way old. You're older than my fathers and nearly as old as my grandfather, dude. Can we not talk about your sex life before I start getting way gross visions?"
"I wasn't talking about that," Ethan said with an eye-roll. "I was following the thread of your conversation, Derek. Though, if you want to consider it, most men are more than capable of that physicality until the day they die, with or without medical intervention." He gave the boy a serious look. "Another grand thing you should have a talk with your fathers about."
"Oh, they've already had that one with me," Junior assured him uncomfortably. "But it's a consideration at my age."
"You're male, it's a consideration at any age," Ethan said dryly. He stared at the boy. "What is your next move?"
"Um, to talk to Tricky and Benny I guess," he admitted. "Since I'll see them before the fathers. When will my natural father be here?"
"I heard next week sometime," Ethan offered. "No one's sure, he never did announce an arrival time."
"I can deal with that too," Junior agreed, standing up. "Thank you, Uncle Ethan. Don't tell Uncle Ripper, he might get really upset and it's not Tricky's fault. It's her mother's and I think I want to have a talk with her soon."
"Derek, a warning about her. You are underage, she cannot touch you without facing retribution, but if you go to face her down she won't listen."
"She will if I kick her ass into next week," he said bitterly. "I'm not letting her play her daughter that way. Her daughter's kinda nice, for a girl." He waved and headed out, ignoring the guy with the camera for now. Until the guy followed him then he walked into a park and waited to pounce him. "Film," he demanded when the man stopped to look around for him, stepping out of some bushes. The man jumped and spun to face him, looking shocked. "Now, film. You were taking pictures of me and I wanted to know why."
"You were with that chaos sorcerer, I'm here to keep track of your doings," he said firmly, sounding quite British.
Junior grimaced. "Dude, he was helping me with a personal problem. Someone offered me their daughter as a girlfriend and I wanted details. That's not exactly something we have at home."
"Oh." He blinked a few times. "Are you sure?"
"Very. I've got...." He shook his head. "Who do you work for?"
"Um, the London Times. Your mother bribed me."
"Hmm. Then go home and tell my mother she can die. The fathers have it well in hand, all except for Precious and even she's being fixed. The next time I catch you taking pictures, I'm going to kick your ass. So will my dads." He nodded and hurried off. "London Times. And I'm a fairy who's also a tailor," he snorted at the retreating back. He knew the guy was from one of the London houses, he just didn't know which one. Yet. He went to the nearest bus stop, deciding to head home. There were those who would deal with him, no matter what he was.
Junior walked into his grandfather's study, holding out a paper to his father. "Sign and don't read it," he ordered. Oz gave him a long look. "I think it's time someone and I had a talk so I'm leaving two hours early tomorrow. I'll miss gym and my computer class, both of which are pretty useless to me at the moment. I'm using the excuse of the paternal wannabe coming in and the school won't know any better."
Oz took the paper and read it over, then looked at his son. "What's going on?"
"I'm going to have a talk with Tricky."
"How is she getting off?"
"She's playing hooky tomorrow," he lied. His father gave him a longer look. "Fine," he sighed, sitting down in one of the chairs on his side of the desk. "I'm going to chew her mother a new one for giving her daughter away like a cereal box prize. I was figuring a 'hi, how are you/gonna kick your ass if you don't lay off/oh and have you heard about my fathers' sort of speech should about do it, but I'll need time off since we're being picked up on such a strict schedule."
"I can't allow that, Junior. She could hurt you."
"If she does, there's almost no one she can barter or sell her daughter to," he pointed out, smirking at his father. "There's also no other powerful lines that Tricky's not related to unless she's going to offer her to Uncle Ethan. I'm sure he'd be more polite than I would, but then again maybe not. By the way, he said to tell you I went to him for information on the blood bride crap and some guy Mom hired took my picture. He said he worked for the London Times but he knew Uncle Ethan played with chaos magic." He stood up. "So if you'll please sign it, it'll save me the trouble of having Brandon forge your signature like he does on the credit card for dinner sometimes."
Oz shook his head and crumpled up the paper, tossing it away. "No, Junior. It's not safe, you're not well enough trained, and she eats little guys like you for lunch."
"I'm not that little," he protested.
"Yeah, you are. You're eleven and still very young."
"Yeah, and I'm also covered under the minors law, even in magic I'm not old enough to make my formal decision."
"People like her don't care about that, son," he said calmly. "I want you to stay away from her. Philip and Nick went to speak to her today. Let them and the rest of us handle it for you. Besides, she might try to drug you or something and then I'd have to kick her ass and so would your other father." His son pouted. "Hey, I'm being a parent, give me a break here, kiddo. My job is to protect you while yours is to get pissed at the limits I set. It's why the teenage institution was created, to give all those angry young kids a place to rebel. Fortunately we won't be going through this again."
"I thought you guys wanted another baby," Junior said, looking confused.
"Well, we do," Oz sighed, leaning back. "But it's getting more and more complicated at the moment so we've decided to wait a bit longer. At least until the older five graduate, since Xandra's in their grade anyway." He shrugged. "Then we'll only have you and it'll be a bit easier. Speaking of, did you want to stay here this summer? I noticed you were really jealous last year."
"I can't go on an internship," he said dryly. "Why bother?"
"You're not the only one they've banned," Oz said calmly. "They've gotten two others. Including that kid in India that's just barely younger than you."
"Him, chaos magic?"
"No, him, magic at all," Oz said bitterly. "This house is known to need someone who uses it so we're given a bit of leeway, just not a lot. The other is female and in the North of Europe somewhere. She was doing demonic summoning. A little female Ethan from what we were told." He shrugged slightly. "It sucks, but it's not just you, son."
"Yeah, but it still sucks. Would it help if I told them I wasn't a chaos person, maybe what my powers do?"
Oz shook his head. "Nope, not a bit. They're classified together."
"Which is dumb."
"Yup, sure is," Oz said grimly. "Think about it though, you're dealing with centuries of built-in prejudice and odd thinking. There are some guys who presently think that we should all be wearing armor and carrying swords. It's going to take nearly as long to fix this one as it did to build up to this level. I wish it were different, I think you'd have a kick ass spot in the group, but it's too ingrained. We'll get raided and we'll all be killed."
"Another sucky thing," Junior said bitterly. "Speaking of sucky, Uncle Ethan said the wannabe is coming in next week he thinks. Are we doing anything special to welcome him? Ambush, death threats? Anything like that?"
"Not that I'm aware of," Oz admitted. His son sighed as he stood up. "Remember, we're handling it. Do not go after Kat, son."
"Yes, father," he said dutifully, though he didn't mean a word of it. He went upstairs and printed another copy of the request form and went to let Brandon sign it. "I'm stealing Benny for ice cream," he explained at the long look his brother gave him.
"Fine," Brandon agreed, signing it readily. "There you go. Feel better?"
"Much," he agreed with a bright smile. "Daddy Oz is in the office. He didn't think it was a good enough idea."
"Yeah, but he's a parent and they get stuck on that stuff," Brandon reminded him, ruffling his hair. "Go play or study. I'll be doing homework checks tonight." Junior nodded and left, going back to his own room. Brandon looked up. "Yo, protect him a bit, okay? He's still really little." He went back to his Latin lessons, getting back into it. Junior would handle it and everyone watched him harder anyway.