Note: I suck at writing accents. So I'm not even trying. The brogues have been softened by their time in the US.
For The Love Of A Boy
"I swear to God, Samuel Winchester, if you don't quit annoying me I'm going to send you to have your mother beat you herself," John growled, looking at his four-year-old son. "Behave for a change." He went back to his research, muttering under his breath.
Dean looked at his little brother. "C'mon, we'll cook dinner, Sammy."
"I wanted the purple stuff," he complained with a small pout.
"What purple stuff?" Dean asked.
"You don't need purple stuff," John said firmly. "It's unnecessary trash."
Sam pointed at the purple stuff on the counter. Dean looked then at his father. "He wants his playdough back, Dad." He gave it to him. "This time no smooshing it into things that it'll get lost in, no trying to feed it to the plastic soldiers as food, and kinda play quietly," he finished more quietly. Sam grinned and nodded, taking it across the living room of their rented spot to play quietly. Dean went to start on dinner.
"I'll do that in a few, Dean."
"Dad, it's nearly seven. We've got to eat soon so we can go to bed," Dean told him. He climbed up onto the counter to get the box of mac 'n' cheese down, then carefully found the pot to put water in.
"I said I'd do it."
Dean looked at him. "I can do it."
John stomped over to take the pot and get to work on dinner for his boys. He knew they were being boys but he was always annoyed these last few months. Sam was getting to the troublesome age. Dean was getting more independent. He kept trying to keep things calm but he couldn't do that and hunt right now. "How about we go see Pastor Jim or Uncle Bobby this weekend, boys?"
"Pastor Jim sick," Sam called loudly. He grinned. "He said he had chicken pox in his letter to Dean."
"I forgot about that," he sighed, shaking his head. "Maybe Uncle Bobby then? That way I can go do what I need to do and you boys can play with the wrecked cars?"
Dean shrugged. "I've got a math test on Monday, Dad."
"Sorry." Dean moved to get some cold cuts out. He knew they needed meat to grow bigger. A sandwich would go good with the gooey cheese mess his father was making. His father gave him a dirty look. "We need sandwiches too, Dad. We're growing. We had nutrition classes last month."
"Whatever." He checked the pasta. Nearly done. A few more minutes and he could drain it and add the cheese powder and other things. Then Dean and Sammy could eat, bathe, then go to bed so he could be left alone for a little bit. Hopefully no one would have nightmares or anything tonight. He needed some peace and quiet for a change.
Outside the thing watching them sneered and went to tell someone something that would get a good chain of events started. That would keep those pesky hunters away from him and his kind.
The Sidhe elf looked at the young boy in the park with his brother. He had heard some bad things about the boy's house. He had no idea where their parent was. He looked around again. No one. He sighed. Clearly abandoned to his big brother's care. He considered it. He was borderline but what he could sense from the child meant that he'd have some powerful skills some day. That would not be served best to be given negligent care. Power like that needed to be nourished. He followed them back to the dingy rental apartment, grimacing in distaste. The boys didn't seem to care. Their father was reading books that his kind would consider foul. Not dark rites foul, not sacrificing people foul, but it was clear he was one of those who hunted the worst things that attacked from the Unseelie court's coffers of evil. With a son that talented, it would become a problem. He went home to talk to his higher ups. "I have a problem," he said in a slight brogue.
His senior looked at him. "What sort of problem?" He went back to his dinner.
"I found one with the traces of mage level powers that's the son of a hunter who clearly has more on his mind than his children." His senior spluttered and choked. He sat down. "I can feel the power in him. Something dark's already tried for the boy at least once. He's already reading as slightly tainted. If we can't save him, he could become a threat."
"Show me." He wiped his mouth off and changed his clothes to something that didn't have new food stains, then they left together. He watched the boys. "Both could use our help," he said quietly.
The younger elf looked at him. "The younger one has me more concerned. The older, when I looked, knew what his father did already and agreed with it. Whatever touched him did it as a babe."
He considered them. "He's clearly got a destiny as well. The dark one who touched him wants him for a sacrifice or something."
"We can negate them. No demon, even the highest of the high, can get Underhill. Plus he'd probably be friends with that quiet one your sister brought in. You know she needs help with him. She's flustered by him being the way he is."
He nodded. "I can understand him better. I was going to suggest he come to stay with me instead." He considered it then nodded. "That would save him. We can easily train him and if that taint tries to come back, his training should counter it." They faded out when the father came to look out the window. "Later," he decided. His student nodded. "Good catch."
"Thank you, sire."
He smiled. "I told you not to call me that."
He smirked back. "So?" His elder just rolled his eyes. He could tease his uncle all he wanted to. His uncle loved him for it. When the lights finally went out, they snuck into the boys' room, finding them both sleeping. The older one was sprawled out on his stomach with a hand under his pillow. They could both feel the iron in the mix of metals in the knife. The younger one was making pouty faces in his sleep and nearly making cat purring noises. They had to smile at that. They quickly gathered him up and left a short note. //We'll take care of him. Nothing that taints him will hurt him. He'll be trained so you don't have to worry about him becoming that which you hunt.// Then they left, going back Underhill to his uncle's house until he could set up his own. The boy was still asleep, cushioned by magic so he hadn't felt anything. They put him into a bed and went to talk to the sister and her new charge. That boy was too quiet and could use a new friend.
Sam woke up and looked around. This was not where he went to sleep. "Fairytale house?" he guessed, looking around. He liked it when Dean snuck and read him fairytales. They were all kinds of cool. He slid off the bed, checking himself over. He was still in his pajamas. He didn't feel any different than he had the night before. He had no idea what he should do other than scream that he had been taken. Dean would know but he wasn't here. He scowled at the door, sneaking over to listen at it. No noise. He huffed and decided to explore. At least he could figure out who had him.
That could help his father get him back. Then his father would beat the mean people up with his big brother. He snuck down the hall toward the bigger areas he could see light coming from. There was a living room that had no tv. Which was strange not to see. It had a lot of books though. He had to stop himself from looking at them instead of sneaking outside. He made it outside and looked around. There weren't any other houses anywhere nearby. He looked up at the house. It was huge. Maybe he was in a fairytale. He looked around.
They had gardens like castles had on the movies Dean sometimes let him sneak and watch when their dad was out. He walked that way to check for unicorns or anything. If he saw one he knew he was in a real fairytale and then he'd have to decide how to handle it. His father wasn't a Prince Charming sort. Dean maybe, but he was too little. He found a little boy beside a pond watching the fish swim around. He looked around before sitting next to him. "Is this a fairytale?"
The boy jumped, staring at him. "Who're you?"
"I'm Sam. Who're you?"
Sam grinned. "Hi, Alex. How old are you?" He held up four fingers. "Me too!" He beamed. Alex grinned some. He looked around. "Are we in a fairytale?"
Alex nodded. "I think so. The people have pointy ears and the one who took me from my yard has a pet."
"Some people have pets."
Sam nodded. "I've met some people who have dogs and cats as pets. What does she have?"
"A slobbery dog with big ears."
"That's a usual pet. Probably a hunting dog. Uncle Bobby has one of those."
"You'd be right, he is a hound," a male voice with a heavier accent said behind them.
They jumped and Sam put Alex behind him. "Who're you?" he demanded. "Why did you take me?"
He squatted down to get on their level. "We took you to protect you from the bad things that were coming for you, Samuel."
"Just Sam," he said with a fierce scowl.
"Fine, Just Sam," he said with a smile. Sam frowned. "Cannot smile? Even a bit?"
"You're a stranger," Alex said from behind Sam. It was odd, the other boy was protecting him.
"No, I'm not a real stranger." He sat on the grass. "I promise no harm will come to you here in the garden, boys." They sat down, but Sam made sure they were out of easy grabbing distance. His heart was breaking at the wariness both boys already showed. Four-years-old and already afraid of people. "I'm Dontel."
"I'm Alex," Alex said.
"I know. My aunt took you in when she found you in your yard." Alex stared at him. He smiled back. "She did."
"What's an aunt?"
"She's my da's sister," he told him.
"Oh. He explains things pretty good," he told Sam.
Sam nodded. "He might. Still doesn't make him not a stranger. So why did you take me?"
"To protect you from the bad things." He smiled. "We saw what was going on around you, young Sam. It'd be safer for you to be here."
"My daddy will beat you up."
"He may try but even he knows you'd be safer here once he figures out it was us."
"He'll still beat you up and then I'll let Dean do it too. He'll save me."
"I'm sure he will. But for right now, there's breakfast." Alex whimpered. "For both of you boys. Then there's time to clean up and put on clothes to play in. We can talk later if you want."
Sam shook his head. "Perverts do things like that too."
"None here would ever touch a child, Sam," he said firmly. "We're not bad Folk."
Sam stared then gulped. "You're an elf." He nodded. "I read about you. You steal children to raise them."
"We only take those who need us to protect them," he corrected. "You had bad things that would hurt you soon. So did Alex."
Alex looked at him. "Why would they?"
"There's many bad things in the town you came from, Alex. With your parents dropping you outside while they did things in another person's house up the road, no one was there to protect you from them."
Sam looked at him. "You have bad guys and perverts around you?"
Alex shrugged. "My parents didn't say anything about them. Jesse's mom said to always be in before dark but I don't know why."
Dontel nodded. "That's true, she did. She had her reasons too. When you're old enough to protect yourself, we'll tell you about those things. That way you can make your own choices. Now, can we go clean up and eat breakfast?"
"Does my father know I'm here?" Sam asked.
"We left a note but we didn't tell him where you'd be. Just that we have you to protect you. Usually we don't leave a note but with what your father does, he'd be causing a panic." He stood up. "Come on then. Breakfast time." They got up and followed him inside. Sam stopped Alex from eating anything before he tasted it. His aunt brought her dog in. Alex seemed to be comfortable with it. So Sam fed him bits of his food first to taste-test it. Too wary by any definition to all the adults watching. When the dog didn't do more than beg for seconds, the boys dug into the generous pile of food.
"Fairytales always have candy," Sam told him.
"Only the bad ones," Dontel reminded him dryly. "We're not bad, that's why you've got eggs and fruit."
Sam nodded. "It's good fruit. Thank you."
"You're welcome, boys. When you're done, there's a bathroom up across from your rooms so you can take a bath and clothes in your closets. Then you can come explore the grounds some more." They nodded, finishing up. The dog followed Alex up the stairs. So maybe he had two young charges and a dog to take care of. At least the house wouldn't be too quiet anymore.
"They'll relax as they get used to it," his aunt reminded him. "Even Alex relaxed enough to finally talk to me. Took me two months but he did."
"Good point. They're both already too wary."
"They'll learn to trust with us. And when it should come." She left to check on the boys. Boys were notorious for not wanting to bathe. Alex was splashing happily but Sam was focusing on getting clean. She gave them both a few wooden toys with a wink then went to lay out clothes for them.
"Why do you have toys in the tub?" Sam called after her. "You can't get clean with toys."
Alex pouted. "Jesse always has toys in his bath. Usually bubbles too."
"Bubbles? Like the stuff you blow from the jar?"
Alex nodded. "Yeah, like that only *huge* piles of them. All over his tub," he said with a grin. He handed Sam a toy. Then let his toy tweet at Sam's so they could engage in a fight. Sam grinned and played too. That was kind of neat. His father didn't let him play in the bath and Dean was usually too tired to help him do more than make sure his back and hair were clean.
John woke up when his son shoved him. "What?" He snapped awake at the crying. "Dean? What's wrong with Sammy?" Dean handed the note to him. He read it and crumpled it in his fist, hugging his son. "It's all right. They won't hurt him, Dean. They won't."
"They took Sammy!"
"Fucking fairies," he muttered, giving his son a squeeze. "He's fine, Dean. Their kind of demon doesn't hurt kids. It takes them to protect them."
"He's ours," Dean said firmly.
John stared at his son's face. "He is and we'll get him back. Did you get up last night?" Dean shook his head. "Not at all?" He shook his head again. "All right. Pack, we're heading to Bobby's. He's got to know more about these kind of things than I do." Dean went to pack their things, being extra careful with Sam's things. John packed the trunk and they left.
Math tests flew out of Dean's mind. His brother had been taken by the people his father called fairies. "Fairies like we saw in Omaha or fairies like in the fairytales Sammy likes read to him?" he finally had to ask.
"Like in the fairytales. Elves, Dean. It's a long story and Bobby can teach it better than I can. I've only seen one before." He sped up, hitting the interstate. They needed to get his son back before they tainted him. His son was not staying with some froofy, courtly elves who had funny behaviors and magic. That was not who his son was.
Bobby Singer looked up as the Impala pulled into the yard at high speed then screeched to a stop. "Problems?" he guessed when he only saw one boy. "Sammy sick?"
"Fucking fairies took him," Dean told him. "We need to get him back. Dad said you know more about them."
"Don't swear, boy."
"Dad called them that," he complained. "They took Sammy last night, Uncle Bobby." John handed over the note.
"Shit," Bobby muttered. "Let me look something up. Go rest for a few minutes, boys." Dean went inside to find the fairytale book Bobby kept for Sam. It might have something in it. He looked at John. "Why take him? They only take abused kids, John."
"I think it's whatever the demon did to him," he said quietly. "It says who taints him won't get him. It also said he's got powers."
Bobby reread the note then nodded. "That would be a good reason then. Especially if Sammy's a bit powerful." He looked at him. "Any evidence of any gifts?"
"Not that I've seen. Dean, have you seen Sammy doing anything weird?"
"Weird for Sammy stuff or normal kid weird?" he asked, coming onto the porch with the fairytale book.
Bobby stared at him for a moment. "Weird for normal kids and they're allergic to cold iron, Dean." Dean grinned at that. "Floating things, talking to more than one invisible friend? Having nightmares that seem to come true maybe?"
Dean considered it. "He had an imaginary cat last year but he claimed Dad ran her over with the car. Um....." He thought about it. His father was moaning at that. Sam had cried for three days about his imaginary cat dying. Until Dean had dug a hole, gotten Sam a shoe box to put it into, and then buried the box in a kitty grave. He even salted it because his father said salt should be put in all graves to keep ghosts down. "No floating things but he's been nearly mental reading recently. That and purple things. Oh, and one shirt that has a horse on it for some reason. It's his new favorite and he nearly has to wear it every day. I'm sure they'll give him back when he throws a fit about not having it." He considered it again. "He's been growing again. His pants are getting tight. He's been wanting to go to the pool to learn how to swim. He even put on my old bathing suit to lay around the house in until Dad made him change because we couldn't go that day. He *really* wants to go to school already? I think that's freaky."
"None of that points at gifts," Bobby decided. "Though, the imaginary cat, did you bury anything?"
"I didn't look. Sammy taped it closed after he put it inside. I was out digging the hole. We were in another state at the time though so unless he found a new stray I doubt it."
"So he might be seeing dead things," John said, looking at his oldest friend.
"Could be," he admitted. Dean groaned, shaking his head. "No, it's got a good reason, Dean. If they think he's got powers and the dark will take him out here, they'll take him in to train him. Make sure the bad things can't hurt him."
"He's Sammy! Bad things happen around him anyway! Or don't you remember the ice cream store nearly exploding around him?" he asked sarcastically. For an eight-year-old, he had a lot of nasty habits.
Bobby shuddered. "Unfortunately I do."
"Could that be something that points to whatever sort of gift?" John asked. "Sammy is unnaturally attracted to trouble."
"Which would mean the dark would have an easier time getting him if he is gifted or tainted," Bobby decided. "I'll ask around, see if anyone's seen one of them recently. Until then, find me cold iron, John." He nodded, going to do that. "Dean, I need help looking stuff up." Dean grimaced but nodded and came to help him. "He's safe until we can get him, Dean. They won't hurt him."
"They still shouldn't have him. They might have any sort of pervert there that Sammy will probably want to make friends with. He did three days ago in the park."
"Who?" Bobby asked.
"Some guy staring at us."
"What did he look like?" Dean stared at him. "Elves can make themselves look like other people."
"That one smelled like stale whiskey, cigarettes, and blood."
"No, not one of them then." He thought about it. "Let's try this book," he said, handing over one in English. Dean could barely read Latin. He sat down to call around. "Chuck, Bobby Singer. I need an elf found so we can check on someone. John Winchester's youngest got stolen because it looks like he's gifted and they were worried about something hunting the boy." If he hadn't added that, the rest of the hunters would decide he had abused the boy and deserved it. They'd probably hunt John down and take Dean away from his mangled corpse.
"Exactly. We all know Sammy's a trouble magnet. Looks like it hit again or they thought that had a reason too. No, snatched him from his bed it looks like. I've got John and Dean here with me. Thank you. Pass it around please." He hung up and called a few others who gossiped and had a good contact list. Hopefully one of the hunters in the US would see one and try to capture him for John to beat up and get his son back. He didn't want to see the obsessed hunting John would do over his son after seeing the one to get the demon that killed his wife.
Sam peeked out of his room later that night. He could hear sniffling. He snuck down to Alex's room, walking in and over to his bed. The other boy was clearly having a nightmare. The dog was nuzzling him but it wasn't working. He crawled up and held him like Dean did to him when he had some. "If they can fight my dad, they can fight scary monsters, Alex. You don't have to worry," he crooned. The boy quit sniffling and fell deeper into sleep. The dog barked quietly and laid on the boy's other side. Sam smiled. "You're a good friend, Blueberry." He patted him on the head. The dog licked his hand, earning a smile. Sam gave Alex a squeeze. The boy flipped over to cuddle him. "I've got you. No more scary dreams," he said like Dean told him, rubbing his back. Alex smiled in his sleep, making Sam happy he had helped him. He tried to move but Alex held on too tight. So he guessed he could sleep here tonight. If anyone complained, well, Dean always did say his fits could stop the universe from moving sometimes.
Dontel came to check on the boys when he was heading to bed, finding Sam's room empty. He rushed over to Alex's but smiled when he caught the boys together. The dog stared at him. "Good dog," he praised quietly. "Guard the boys for me." He went to his room for some sleep. The boys had explored the garden all day long. Tomorrow they had the other three lawns and the woods to do. Alex was enough to wear him out. Sam followed willingly with him. The dog had even napped for lunch after all that exploring. But it was good to see them being boys. Even if Sam was plotting how to escape some day.
"Why is it all gray and shimmery like water out there past the wall?" Sam asked. He looked up at Dontel's Aunt Florian.
"Well," she said, trying to figure out how to explain it. "When we made Underhill and our towns, we had to create them out of magic. Underhill wasn't here until we formed it out of magic to get away from the mortal world."
Alex looked up at her. "Why did you need to leave? Were there scary perverts there too? Were they after you?"
"Or was it people like my dad?" Sam asked.
"We sidhe have a few unusual allergies," she told him. "They were getting more commonly seen in the mortal world. That along with the problem that some people cannot tell us and the bad of us apart, meant that they tried to get rid of all of us, even if we were good people doing good things."
Sam considered it then nodded, looking very solemn for his age. "So you hid down here?"
"We created Underhill to live in. A safe place for our people. The others, even the bad, have their own spaces that they created out of the wild magic that floats around down here. That gray area is somewhere that's unformed. No one's used it to make their own town." She smiled. "In a way it's like islands in a sea. That would be the water out there."
"Are there sharks?" Alex asked. "Jesse watched something on them on tv once."
"Not exactly but there's the land and magical version of sharks. That's why you should never go out there, boys. It's very dangerous."
Alex looked confused but nodded. "We won't go visit the magical sharks."
"No, we won't," Sam agreed.
"Good. Then let's go have a snack. There's some nice, ripe vegetables in the garden." Both boys grimaced but she laughed. "They'll make you grow up strong and healthy, boys. You have to eat them sometimes."
"Why can't we have twinkies like Jesse had?" Alex asked.
Sam looked at him. Then at her. "Why doesn't Jesse live with us?"
"He was safer for now. The town Alex comes from is very dangerous. His friend has good parents that watch out for him." Alex shook his head. "They did when we watched." He shook his head again. "Why not?"
"His mommy's not always home mentally from what mine said."
"We'll check on him every now and then for you, Alex." The boy beamed and gave her the first hug she'd had from him. She smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "It speaks well of you that you care about your friends." She walked the boys back to the house, letting them gather the dog. He wouldn't go near the barrier for anything. Even with an adult around. The boys and the dog bounced into the kitchen to talk Dontel out of cookies instead of vegetables. They'd give up eventually but for right now it was good to see them happy, safe, and content to stay.
John looked at the elf another hunter had trapped for him with a cold iron trap. The thing looked a bit sick but they had taken his son so he didn't really care if they all got sick. "Where is my son?" he demanded quietly. "I want him back."
"We only take those that need it," the elf sneered.
He held up the note. "I don't think my son needed it in the way you think."
The elf took the note. "That's made paper," he admitted, tossing it back. "I have no idea. There's many elfhames."
"How many four-year-old boys are presently Underhill?" the other hunter asked.
"In ours? Seven about that age, four boys, two that're only four."
"Is either of them my son?" John demanded.
"No. Ours come from up here." He stared at him. "I understand your concern, but it was probably for the best. Depending on that taint, and the powers they think he has, it was probably to make sure he'd grow up using it for the light side."
"He's still my son and I can get him training if I felt he needed it."
"You know naught of magic. Or even who would be good to train him. Would you let him be a target when he manifested? Many things on the other side would take him to sacrifice for his power."
"I can handle that threat myself."
The elf stared at him. "I'm sure but you have no magic to protect the boy." John growled. "We can train him better, and easier. Magic's easier there."
"He's my son. Not some elf."
"We'd never harm him. Children are precious to us," he reminded him. This one was quickly losing what little control of his temper he had. With the cold iron around him, he couldn't slip Underhill to warn anyone. He couldn't really put up a good magical defense either. It'd drain him too quickly. "Your son is safe, well-taken care of. The one who has him probably loves him like his own already."
"We were in Idaho."
"That would be one of the mid-country elfhames, not mine," he told him. "We only work up here. There's plenty for us to help in today's world."
John nodded. "I've seen that. I have no problem with you stopping children from being hurt, but mine wasn't!" he said firmly.
He stared him down. "For how long would that last?" The man went pale. "Young Samuel obviously had a taint on him."
He nodded. "I've heard that another of us found a very strong mage potential child that had already been tainted by the dark. I do not know who. I know it was to protect him from the dark that was coming for him and it's said that the demon had him marked as a sacrifice."
"The one who took out your wife?" the other hunter asked John.
"It's the only one that's been near him," he admitted. "Probably." The elf nodded. "Do you know of that one? If I can remove the threat sooner can I have him back?"
The elf smiled. "I'm sure he's found friends, is playing and learning. He's safe."
"He's still my son. You don't need to save that one. Give the attention to a son or daughter that needs it."
"I can ask around, see how he is," he offered. He felt someone else come in but he wasn't sure who. He could tell there wasn't another adult. "I doubt that the caregiver who has him would mind telling you how he is unless he had other reasons to take him."
John glared. "No deal." He pulled out his gun.
"John!" the other hunter complained.
John stared at him. "They are not keeping my son."
"Do I have your sworn word that you will come back?" the other hunter asked. "Sworn and vowed?"
"You have my word. It may take me a day to search out who has him." The other hunter looked at John. He looked at him too. "I always keep my word. It is who we are."
John sneered. "Why should I trust you?"
"Because I'd never hurt your family. I can find where he is, perhaps even get a picture or something." He could feel the great beyond calling. That one was going to kill him for this. "It was not me."
"I'd trade you for my son," he offered.
"They'd have to hear first," he pointed out. "How would you get that demand to the higher ups?"
John looked at the other hunter. "The other barely managed to escape. I haven't felt anything like magic going on nearby. Sorry, John. Maybe he will go check on him. Then once you get the demon he can come back. We know kids who go Underhill are well taken care of."
"He's still my son."
"I know that. I know this is ripping you apart worse than when you lost your wife." The elf gave him a look. "He's been hunting that demon for years because of it."
"We know. We have heard of your kind and do keep track of you now and then." He looked at John. "I can see if others know of him and see if that one would be willing to make that deal. I can go and come back within a day. You have my vowed and sworn word." John did not look happy. "Tis the only way since you can't get down there and I can't bring you with me. I'm not that strong. It'd take a higher up to do that."
"Let him do that, John. We know Sammy's safe. Maybe they will know something about that demon so you can get Sammy back faster."
Bobby stomped in. "Good, we caught one."
"Where's Dean?" John asked him.
"In the truck. Where I told him to stay." He looked at him. "Where's Sammy?"
"According to rumors, the one who found him found a mage potential who was already tainted and marked as a sacrifice," the elf told him. "I'm offering to check on him since he's not in our elfhame."
"He's going to see if they'll give Sammy back if we can take out that demon," the other hunter told Bobby.
"That makes sense even if it is painful. We don't want it to hurt Sammy," he reminded John. His fragile control over his temper was totally gone by what he saw. "An elf's sworn word, as long as he's Seelie, means that he'll keep it if he's alive, John."
"I can ask around and possibly even help you find that demon," he offered. "He's right, we did take his son to protect him and once the threat is over he might be able to go back. I'm not sure what his caregiver would say."
John stared at him. "I want it in blood. Blood oaths can't be undone." The elf flinched but nodded and pricked his finger with his own knife to do that, swearing he would track down the boy and be back with information. The other hunter let him out. No one saw Dean Winchester, sneaky bastard and future hunter, latch onto the elf at the last moment so he could go too. Neither did the elf with how sick he was feeling. He looked around. "Dean?" he called.
"He's in the truck," Bobby reminded him.
"Dean hasn't been listening and he's insistent that he's getting Sammy back," he said. He went to check then came back in. "No, he's there."
Bobby groaned. "They'll protect him."
The elf appeared, wobbling and shaky, going to his knees. Dean snuck off while he recovered. A younger girl came over to see what was wrong. "I need an elder here," he told her. "Someone's quite upset that we have his son." She went to tell her caregiver. He went back to filing his magic reserves with power to ease the cold iron sickness. A very old elf knelt next to him. He looked at her. "They trapped me in cold iron, Mother. He wanted his son back."
"He was cruel. Does he deserve his son?"
"He had a point that we did take him but he wasn't abused. The new mage potential I heard rumors about as far as I could tell." She nodded. He slumped. "He was quite mad. He nearly made me a very dead messenger. I said I'd find the child and bring back information."
"Dontel has him," she said with a slight smile. "He's also taken in Florian's new charge. They're doing well together."
He smiled in relief. "The other hunters trying to help him control his temper thought that a deal might be made to give him back if he could end that demon's threat to the boy."
"It's possible. Dontel is fairly skilled with magic." She stroked over his head. "Go see a healer." He nodded, getting up with a moan to do that. "Then you can see Dontel. He lives near his aunt." He helped her up.
"Thank you, Mother."
"You're not mine but I'll accept that." She smiled and walked him off to a healer's house.
Dean, who had eavesdropped, smirked. That was good to know. Now all he had to do was find this Dontel person. He looked around. No phone booths so no phone books. No library he could see either. So maybe he'd play helpless kid and go ask an adult? Nah, better to sneak off. He walked out of the park in the opposite way, heading for the bigger houses. Surely they had put someone who had power with someone who could protect him since they said they could train him. Powerful people always had bigger houses as far as he knew. He listened, none of those houses had kids playing that he could hear. He snuck into a few yards but no kids in those houses at all. So he moved on. He could hear kids playing up the road. It turned out to be a small school. No Sammy there either. So he played innocent lost child. He smiled at the cute girl who had caught sight of him. "I'm supposed to go play with Dontel's new boy. Isn't he around here?"
She shook her head. "No, he's in another elfhame, child." She smiled. "He's fairly far away. Did they drop you off here? I'd beat them myself for you."
"No. I told him I knew the way and left. I guess I'll go whine at him. Thank you, miss." She giggled, patting him on the head before letting him walk off again. He went to consider it. Did they have busses here? He knew he could take a bus to another town. Or hitchhike; sometimes they saw hitchikers on the road. He ran into that strange elf again, following him for now. He had to lead him to Sammy, right?
Dean finally made it to the other elfhame. He had no idea how they had done that. He didn't want to know because it made him dizzy and sick to his stomach. He snuck off, looking around. They were in a village. The elf was heading for a building that looked like a library to him. Sammy might like books but he was too small to be in there. He found a walkway and headed down it looking like he belonged there. He checked the kids he ran into. No Sammy.
A small boy that had some scrapes that needed to be cleaned up. His mother was walking him to a house to do that. A few other kids out with books so they were going to school he guessed. He felt something wrong feeling and walked toward it. Sammy was usually found near anything like that. It seemed to like him for some reason. He found a wall where the pretty things stopped and the gray stuff started. He could walk through it but doing so gave him a shudder of horror so he stepped back. He snuck around the edge of it like he would follow a stream. Sammy was *always* near the bad stuff for some reason.
The elf found Dontel in his house on the other side of the village, sighing as he was let in. "His father nearly killed me," he said quietly.
"Claims we took him unfairly. Trapped me in cold iron." Dontel winced. "He wants news and to know if he can have him back if the threat is gone. I promised pictures."
He nodded. "I have nothing against keeping him informed." He walked him to where the boys were playing outside. Sam had somehow snuck a book and was reading it to Alex. "That's very good reading, Sam." Sam beamed at him. "Are you teaching Alex how to read too?"
"I am. He didn't know. He didn't have Dean to teach him."
"That's true, he didn't." He patted him on the head. "This is Ellery. He's from another elfhame."
"What's an elfhame?" Sam asked.
"It's a village," Ellery told him. "There's many villages." The boys nodded at that. He noticed Sam had moved to protect little Alex. "I'd never hurt either of you, boys. We good elves aren't like that." They nodded. He heard a baying sound from far off and winced. "That sounds bad."
"The local teacher has hounds to hunt with. Her husband hunts anything that crosses the barrier," Dontel said quietly. "Probably something they found." He looked at them. "Sam, he's here checking on you for your Da."
Sam nodded. "Dean's got to be upset. He loves me."
The elf smiled. "You Da does too, Sam. He's very upset."
"Ooooh. Did he spank? Or just yell?"
"No, he had a shotgun," he said.
"Dad does that." He nodded. "I should go back, huh?"
"No," Dontel said. "Not until the thing that could hurt you is gone." Sam beamed at him for that. Someone appeared on his doorstep, making him look at his aunt. "What happened now?"
"I think that one has another visitor." She handed over the boy the dogs had found.
"Dean!" Sam shouted, getting up to hug him. "Did you come to visit?"
"No, I came to get you back. You know I'll come for you, Sammy." He gave his head a nudge then looked him over. "You're dirty."
"We were building a sand castle earlier. Alex never built one before." He led him back. "This is Alex. He needed protecting too."
Dean glared at Dontel. "We will be talking about this." He sat down to talk to his brother. "Hey, Alex, can I have Sammy for a bit?" Alex shook his head. "No?" he asked with a smirk. "Why not?"
"My friend," he said quietly. "Bad things will come for him."
"He'll be safe with me. I protected him for a very long time."
Alex shook his head. "No. Not this time. Blueberry will need to." He pointed. "That way."
Dontel and Florian looked. "I'll be damned. Aunt?" She ran to get someone. "Good catch. Boys, inside the house." They ran into the sitting room. "Up to your rooms. It's safer up there." He grabbed a sword. The other elf came to help. Some of the other older elves came to get the thing that had crossed over too. "How did they breach the shield?"
"We don't know," another told him. "We had one in the village last night."
"It's not the boys, right?" They all shook their heads. They had others marked as a sacrifice before. Nothing like this had happened.
"What about the other boy?" Ellery asked.
"Hellmouth born and his parents sent him outside to the yard while they went up the street," Dontel sneered. "They deserve the misery they get." That one nodded.
"We drained the taint off him," another told him. "Why are you visiting?"
"Sammy's father trapped him and demanded his son back. He's getting information and a picture. Brought his brother too." He glared at him.
"I was so sick I didn't feel him grab on," he defended.
"I'm sure someone will help you with that," Florian told him. Clearly she thought that one needed some more training before being let into the mortal world.
Dean shut the bedroom door, looking at his brother. "Pack."
"No! Alex needs me." He sat on his bed, cuddling the other boy. "He needs me, Dean."
"Maybe we can bring him with us. Dad might fuss for a bit but you know he'd never hurt a kid who needed help, Sammy."
"I know. But it's nice here. They let me read whatever I want. I'm teaching Alex how to read like you did to me. I'm being a good big brother just like you are."
Dean sniffled at that, giving him a hug. "Mushy," he teased. "We can bring Alex back with us."
Alex shook his head. "My parents would throw fits."
"Your parents won't know. Our dad won't tell them," Dean promised. "Not if you needed to be here." He had read the book on why elves took children. He knew that it meant Alex was probably hurt by his parents. He agreed with his father, parents like that needed shot. "Both of you pack." Sam slumped. "Dad's seriously mad, Sammy."
"I didn't do it."
"I know that. So does he. He just wants you back. He misses you." Sam looked at him. "Please?"
Sam looked at Alex, who shrugged. "Let me get a few books to bring with us. Alex likes to be read to."
"Sure. Are they up here? If it's not safe downstairs, we can't go yet." They heard a scream of pain from something that didn't sound human. Dean winced. "That had to hurt, whatever they did." He got the boys packed up and snuck them out of the back door. The dog came over to go with them. Dean patted it. "You're a good friend, poochie."
"That's Blueberry," Sam said with a grin. "He's a good dog. He and Alex cuddle all the time."
"That's excellent. Did he come with Blueberry?" Alex shook his head. He stared at him. "I'm not mean, Alex. I've taken care of Sammy for years. I always protect Sammy and come for him when he's in trouble. It's what fantastic big brothers do."
"I'm an only child. So are Willow and Jesse," he said quietly.
"Well, maybe you can stay with us. That way you have two big brothers," Sam said happily. They followed Dean to where he had come in. It wasn't a bus station. "How are we getting back to Dad, Dean?"
Ellery found him and snatched Dean up, staring at him. "That was dangerous, boy."
"I can protect Sammy. I always have and I'll always come for him."
"You need your hind-end tanned for this stunt." He handed him to Florian. Then he walked the other two and the dog back to the house. Dontel sighed in relief, checking them over and hugging each of the boys, even Dean. "He said he was protecting them."
"He has since he helped save him," Dontel assured him. He pulled Dean aside to talk to him. He wanted to make sure the boy knew that his little brother was safe there. That way he wouldn't do anything stupid. Dean was stubborn so he ended up telling him he could visit whenever he needed to. Then he took magical pictures of the boys reading together, taking them and Dean back with Ellery. They found John pacing in a motel room. "This one is very brave." He handed Dean over.
"Dontel. I'm the one taking care of your son until the threat to him is over."
"Dad, tell him we can get it next week," Dean told him. "That way Alex and Sam can both come home?"
Dontel looked at him. "You want Alex too?" he asked, looking amused.
"Sammy said he wouldn't come without Alex and Alex won't go without Blueberry." He shrugged. "Sammy would throw fits if we tried to separate them. Sammy fits can stop the universe sometimes."
John hugged his son. "We'll be talking about that stunt later, Dean. Sit down." He looked at him. "How is my boy?"
"He's doing very good." He handed over the pictures with a smile. "Earlier when we had a shield breach they were very safe. He protected Alex very well. He said he did what Dean would do for him."
"Even read to keep him calm," Dean agreed. "I taught him well."
John looked at his son then at the elf. "He throwing fits?"
"We have a library at the house." John smirked at that. "He's teaching Alex how to read. Gotten him to talk too. He wasn't saying much before."
John nodded. "I know why you take other children. Mine was safe."
"No, he wasn't. The demon was nearby again." John shuddered. "If you should take him out, then we'd talk about sending him back, but he does need the training we can give him. Sam's got Power, John Winchester. Great power. He needs a careful trainer who won't keep him from learning how to use it properly to help others." He stared him down. The father was still in a rage. He had his reasons, but Dontel knew he was right. He was over six hundred years old and he had seen many children. "Children are precious to our kind," he reminded him. "He'll be very safe and not very spoiled with us. He'll be a normal boy who does normal boy things."
"They have a huge garden," Dean added. "Sammy was filthy from teaching Alex how to build sand castles in the dirt."
"How old is that one?" John demanded.
"A few months younger than yours. Alex needed us. My aunt found him on a hellmouth alone in a yard after dark."
John shuddered. "That sounds bad even if I'm not sure what a hellmouth is yet." He looked at Dean then at him. "I still want my son back."
"Dean can visit every year until you can get it," he offered. "The demon tracks you, John."
John nodded. "I want to see my son as well."
"I can arrange for visits when it's safer." He looked at Dean then at John. "He's very brave. Tried to take the boys and the dog during the fight."
"You guys were distracted," Dean told him. "It'd be a good time to sneak off. If you guys had busses instead of freaky gray stuff outside your towns I would've gotten him home already. He's mine to protect, not yours."
"Dean, hush," John ordered, staring at the elf. "I'll teach him better."
Dontel smirked. "I'm sure you will. He'll make a fine hunter." He nodded politely. "Let me get the boys dinner and settled into bed. I'll come back in a few months to give you new pictures. He'll be starting school then." They disappeared before John could react. Dontel went limp in his favorite chair. Alex brought him out a cup of tea with a small, shy grin. "Thank you, Alex. That's very sweet of you, my boy." He kissed him on the forehead. "Are you two eating salads for dinner with me?" He grimaced and shuddered. "We'll try for dessert if you do."
"Maybe. I'll talk with Blueberry and Sam." He ran off to do that. He plopped down next to Sam. "Your brother's back there."
"Dean's going to pout. I hate it when he pouts. He makes me feel bad for doing stuff." He hugged Alex. "It'll be okay. My dad will protect you too." Blueberry came over to sit next to them, leaning on Alex's free side. He smiled at the dog. "Good dog, Blueberry. You're nearly as good as Uncle Bobby's dog." He petted him.
Alex petted the dog, slowly napping on Sam's shoulder. Sam grinned down at him. Dontel came out a few minutes later with Ellery. "That's sweet of you," Ellery said quietly. "I can put him to bed."
"No, he's fine," Sam said. "Thank you anyway."
Ellery nodded. "I can see how good of a protector you are, Sam." He patted him on the head.
Dontel smiled. "We'll make sure your dad knows how good you've been and how safe you are. We'll even let Dean come visit now and then. Once they've got the thing that wants to hurt you, we'll talk about letting you go home."
Sam looked at Alex then at him. "He needs me. Dean needs me too but Alex doesn't have anyone like Dean."
"Dean tried to claim him too," Dontel offered with a grin. "Said you'd throw fits if you didn't have him to take care of and he'd throw his own if you two didn't take Blueberry there with you." Sam grinned and nodded at that. "We'll figure it out, Sam. Now, let's get you both up to bed. 'Tis been a long day." He lifted both boys up, letting the dog follow. "Your bed or his?"
"Mine," Sam said softy. He put them both down. "Thank you, Dontel."
"Not a problem, Sam." He tucked them in and went to work on dinner. They'd be up after a nap. He looked at Ellery. "Make sure the others know that his father will try something to get his son back again. He's still very mad."
"I will. Will you be okay with both of them?"
He smiled. "It's good to see Alex happier. We'll be fine." Ellery nodded and left. Dontel got to work on dinner's salad and the dessert he had promised Alex for being so calm earlier. It had been a very long day already. His aunt came in to shoo him off for his own nap. "I'm not a tot," he complained.
"You're still very young, Dontel. Don't argue with me." He huffed but went to do it anyway. She could still probably turn him over her knee and spank him if he disobeyed.
John looked at his son. Dean finished drawing out what he had seen. "That's good, son. I'm proud." Dean grinned.
"Since the locator we put on him didn't work, that means that they're out of time and space," Bobby said thoughtfully. "Two different towns, Dean?" He nodded. "Any connection you could see?"
"No one had busses, trains, or cars. A few were on horses but outside the town looked like it was silvery watery stuff on the ground. The sky wasn't normal looking either but I don't know why."
John considered it. "It said that Underhill was out of time and space."
"Does that mean Sammy's going to come back the same age like that Rip whatever-his-name-was guy in the story?" Both adults looked at him. "Went to party with the fairies in the ring, came back twenty years later thinking it was overnight?"
John shook his head. "No. I doubt they want the kids to age that slowly. They probably want them to grow up, do normal mortal things, then help them with their plans."
"From what little we know, they do," Bobby agreed. "Looks like he's got a nice sized house."
"With a library for Sammy's book need days," Dean quipped. "He wanted to bring most of it back too."
John smiled. "Sammy does like to read." He looked at Bobby. "So how do we get there?"
"They've got to have some way to get the more normal people who work with them, like the kids they raised earlier, in and out of there. We'd have to find their village. The others shouldn't be touched."
"They didn't take my boy and I can agree that those other kids probably needed the help. I won't deny that they do," John told him at Bobby's look. "But my son didn't."
"No, he didn't," he agreed. "Even if you can be a focused jackass now and then, John."
John shrugged. "Now I have to be." A dog appeared. "How did you get here?"
"That's Blueberry," Dean said, reaching down to pet him. "Hey, boy. Did you leave Alex behind?" Blueberry moaned into his petting, dropping the envelope he was carrying. "Good dog!"
"Very good dog," John agreed, patting him. "Good boy." Bobby handed over one of his dog's treats. The dog barked and left again. "Hand me the envelope, Dean." It was handed over. He looked at the information. "On the demon. The cover page said that Sammy's throwing a fit about us not keeping Dean. That Alex could use two big brothers since he had only learned a little bit of how to be one." Dean ducked his head but he looked happy at that.
"With some of Sammy's fits maybe they'll give him back," Bobby said. He'd seen one that had made John hand the boy to Dean and stomp off in a huff. Dean nodded quickly but stopped when his dad caught him.
"They're more stubborn from the longer lives," John told them. "I'm sure they can outlast Sammy throwing a fit and holding his breath." The other two smirked. It served them right for taking his boy. Now they had information to plan from. The next time they let Dean down there they'd have to be ready to get the boys back to their normal realm.
Sam looked at the building then at Dontel. "Why are we here?"
"This is the school, Sam. You're both going."
"But Alex can barely read."
"That's what school's for. To teach you things like that. Plus there'll be other kids around."
"Blueberry can't come?" Alex complained.
"No, dogs don't go to school. He'll be napping so you two can play with him after you're done for the day." He gave them a nudge toward the door. "Go ahead. She's not mean. She's taught children for many years."
"No! Sam can teach me," Alex pouted, starting to whine.
Sam nodded. "I can. I can learn at home."
"You'll learn more here. We want you to be as smart as you can be when you're older." He gave them another nudge. Sam was getting that stubborn look again. Alex too. He sighed. "Come on, boys. I'll introduce you to the teacher and she can tell you about the other students. All right?"
"No," Sam said, starting to sound pouty too.
Dontel stared at him. "You throw a fit and you can't play when you get done for the day. You'll be in your room while Alex is outside." Alex shook his head. "You two can't be punished together." He walked them inside by force. "They think they can learn at home."
"Such silly boys," the teacher said with a smile. "I can teach them so much more." She patted them both on the head. "I'm Elliana."
Alex hid behind Sam. He knew that Sam would protect him. "No."
"No what?" she asked.
"No!" he shouted louder. She went flying. "Did I do that?" he asked, looking confused.
"I think you did," Dontel said, walking over to help her up. "Aunt!" he called, sending magic her way so she'd hear. She came in. "Alex just manifested. He didn't want to come to classes."
She looked at the boys, blocking Alex's gifts off for now. "He's got wild magic, Dontel. Very interesting." She smiled and Alex hugged Sam's back. "She won't hurt you." Alex nodded. "No she won't. She hasn't in years, Alex. She's been teaching since she was newly an adult."
"So?" Sam demanded. "We don't trust her."
"Be that as it may, you still need to be in school," Florian said firmly. "That way you're not dumb."
"I'm not stupid," Sam said firmly. It was clear he was going to have a fit soon.
"No, you're not stupid, Sam, but this is so you keep learning new things," Dontel told him. "That way you and Alex can both be as smart as you can be when you're an adult."
Sam glared at him. "Teachers are mean."
Elliana held her head. "He's got quite a kick to him," she said finally. She looked at the scared little boys. "I don't know why I scared you, Alex. I'm sorry I did." He shook his head. "Yes I am."
"No you're not."
Sam looked at him. "How do you know?"
"Because she's not a girl."
Dontel and Florian stared at him. "She's grown up into a fine young woman," Dontel admitted. "That's what girls do though."
"If she was a girl she'd have girl things."
Florian looked at the young woman then at him. "What are you talking about, Alex?" He walked over and poked something apparently the adults couldn't see.
"I saw that," Sam said. "I wasn't sure what it was."
"That's not a girl thing," he said impatiently. "Girls don't have those."
Florian cast a discernment over the teacher, then smiled. "Alex, that's very good sensing. We'll have to work on teaching you how to do that properly, young man."
Alex grimaced. That sounded like it'd take up play time with Sam. "Why?" he whined.
"So you can do it the right way and tell us all about what special things you see," Dontel said with a smile. He got some of the Court's guards. Spies got handed over to them. They came rushing in and spotted the problem. They went for Sam. "Not him."
"He's tainted," one said.
"That's why we saved him," Dontel said firmly. "So he wouldn't be sacrificed since he's a mage." They flinched back at that. "The same as Alex here apparently has wild magic." They shrank back from both boys. "Think you want to have the construct?" He pointed at it. They did the same spell and groaned, taking her off. He shook his head. "Aunt?"
"I'll teach today. Would that suit you boys?" They nodded. She told good stories. "Good. Go play outside quietly until the other students get here." They went outside to get messy. She looked at her nephew. "They are quite strong."
"We'll have to do something about that taint some day soon," he pointed out.
"I've got a call out to a stronger mage to see what we can do. He'll be by shortly I'm sure." She walked out, smiling at the other children. "Your teacher was a bit ill, children. I'm going to be filling in today. Please go to your seats so the two new of you can find theirs." They ran inside. The boys trudged but did as ordered. It was nice there wasn't more than a pout involved this time. She sat them at the same table but they had a person between them. That way they couldn't get into as much trouble. Sam pouted and scowled but oh well. She set them the first assignment the teacher had set out, working on the youngest four with their reading while the others did math. Truly, these boys were going to drive her insane. Better her nephew's mind than hers. He was young, he might recover in a few centuries.
Dontel looked up as someone knocked on his door that night, going to open it. "Sir," he said, getting out of the family patriarch's way. His grandfather was not one to be messed with. "Here about the boys?"
"I am. What's this I heard one's tainted?" he asked.
"He's a mage potential. A demon's marked him as a future sacrifice."
"The son of the hunter that was trapping us?" Dontel nodded. "That's dangerous."
"With his potential, it's better for him. Before it turns him evil."
"I can see that point. Have we not tried to weed out that taint?"
"Aunt Florian said she'd written someone about it."
"Good. Where are they?"
"Having nightmares so they crawled in together." He led the way up to Alex's room. They liked to curl up in Alex's bed it seemed. He opened the door carefully and peeked in then got out of the way.
His grandfather petted the dog. "Good Blueberry," he said quietly. "Very good boy to guard them." He checked the boys over magically. "Where is the other from?"
"He's got some of the area's power in him."
"We found out earlier he has some wild magic around him along with his Sight."
"I heard." He left the room, going down to the kitchen. Dontel tucked the boys in better then shut their door on the way down to join him. "They're strong."
"They are, but they're only four."
"That's a good point. The mage she wrote asked me to check on the boys, see how bad the taint was."
"I'm fairly certain it's a blood taint of some sort."
"It was." He made them some tea and sat down to drink it while he thought. "It could hurt him to weed it out now."
"What if the demon tries to do it remotely?"
"Then it could hurt him more," he admitted. "I'll talk to him about both boys. The bigger one's an elemental mage." Dontel moaned. "It seems the taint gave him an affinity for fire and he has one for water already." That got a nod. "The other I'm not sure where his comes from but he's strong."
"He's a bit odd now and then too," he admitted. "But a good boy. Usually very quiet unless he's causing hell in the garden with Sam."
"The bigger one's name. The other is Alex."
"Alex will need some tutoring to make sure it doesn't explode around him again. Wild magic can be dangerous to everyone."
"He was spooked by the construct earlier."
"We saw that. It was well done but a bit odd. Why take a teacher?" Dontel handed over the papers Florian had started to give the children until she had noticed what it contained. He looked it over. "Ah, I see. Warping the young early enough so they can't be on our side." Dontel nodded. "What do you want to do about the boys?"
"They're good together. Sam protects Alex. Said he'd be a good big brother like his own was. With the way their father was hunting his obsession, his brother spent a lot of time helping raise him already. I've given him permission to visit now and then."
"Good. That could keep his father from hunting us down. I know he took out a Unseelie court member last night." Dontel choked at that. "I think he left the reason as something like 'one less that can come after my son'."
"John's a strong man with a strong soul. We've talked about sending Sam back when his father's taken out that demon that wanted him. We'll have to see what the boy wants when it happens. He'll have a lot of the fundamental training by then as well."
"I can see that. It could cause a problem with Alex though."
"Sam was pushing to bring Alex and the dog with him," he said dryly. "Which might be a safe place to have them."
"Alex is attached to the dog?" he guessed with a smile.
"Very. Tried to bring the dog to class too."
"We'll work on the boys' training. They're good looking boys. Very healthy. Though, Alex has an affinity to water too for some reason. I'm not sure why." He finished his tea and stood up. "Let me tell the others so we can look up how to remove the blood taint so that demon can't hurt him. Then we'll worry about his father."
"His father probably won't take us out."
"Probably not," he agreed. "For now." He left, heading back to talk to the elder mages. "It's a blood taint. Sam's an elemental mage." They all sighed in displeasure. "Alex has wild magic." That got a bigger groan. "Sam's marked by Azazel."
One of them stared at him. "For his grand plan to end humanity?" she demanded. He nodded. "Can we save the boy?"
"If we can remove it, yes. I'm not sure what we can do though. How do we remove it?" He sat down to go over the methods that wouldn't hurt that boy too much. None of them wanted to hurt the boy, just cure that damnable taint that he carried before it hurt others. Alex's training was talked about too. Both boys clearly needed to be trained from their current ages. It could only help them in the long run and keep Alex from blowing Underhill back to wild magic.
Aunt Florian sat both boys in the garden, looking at them. Then she sat across from them with a small moan for her old bones. "Today we're going to learn something new. This is about how you sent that teacher flying, Alex. That way you know when it's going to come so you can both warn us."
"I can do that too?" Sam asked.
"You can but in a different way. You see, you have power that relates to the elements, Sam. Mostly fire and water."
"The thing that killed my mother used fire," he said quietly.
"It's because of him that you have that spark," she agreed. "The water skills were already yours to own." He relaxed and grinned, nodding some. "Alex also has a soft spot magically for water but he can also call wild magic. That can be a bit...problematic if it's not in control."
"More people will fly?" Alex guessed, pouting some.
"That as well." She led them in how to get down into a meditative state. Both boys wiggled too much to fully drop down but it was close enough for a first lesson. It got them to the point where they could sense the magic. Alex was nearly twitching at the magic floating on the breeze. Sam was humming at the stuff in the flowers around them. She smiled and did a small light spell. Both boys flinched but 'ooohed' over it. She canceled it. "That's how you know when someone's doing magic around you, boys. Eventually you won't have to drop that far down. You'll be able to feel it without that." They both nodded. She smiled. "Good boys."
"Can we have a cookie for it?" Alex asked with a grin.
She patted him on the head. "You can have vegetables as a treat."
"You need vegetables to grow up big and strong, boys. You have to eat them even if you don't like it."
"Can we have mac 'n' cheese like from the box?" Sam asked. "Dad made it a lot."
She sighed. "We don't have any down here but I'll see if I can make some from the recipe." He beamed at that.
Alex looked at him. "Your dad cooked?"
"Our mom died," he told him.
"Wow. My dad couldn't cook. He set the stove on fire with his cigarette once."
"Did your mother cook?" Florian asked.
Alex shook his head. "She said it was evil and women of her generation didn't do those things, it went against bras or something burning. I didn't understand why she wanted to burn her bra or whatever. Or what a bra was. I asked once so she gave me a dirty look. Willow's mommy laughed though."
"I'm sure she did," Florian agreed. "I would too. It had to be a cute moment." Alex gave her a shy look. "Now, do it again so you get used to feeling the magic around you boys. The more you listen to it the better you'll be at controlling your own."
Sam concentrated then looked at Alex's hair. "It's got some in it."
"It wouldn't stay down. It's too short," Alex said with a pout. He tried to smooth down his hair again.
Florian looked then made the magic dissipate. The hair laid down. "That's wild magic, Sam. Did either of you feel the difference?" They both nodded, smiling at her. "You should not touch that unless it's an emergency. It can be dangerous to touch." They both nodded, still grinning. "No pranks with it, boys. I'm serious. Someone can get hurt, including you two."
"We won't," Sam said quietly. "Why can Alex do that instead of what I can do?"
"We're not sure. Wild magic is what made Underhill. It's what we called up to make the space down here and then the hames." They both listened attentively. They loved stories. She went over the story of the mages who created the Underhill areas and how they had called towns into being from the wild magic.
Sam looked at Alex. "Wow. You'll be really strong."
"Yes, he may be, but the problem is that wild magic isn't predictable." They both looked confused so she thought up an analogy. "Like wolves and dogs. They share a same ancestor. Regular magic is like Blueberry. Tame, willing to be cuddled, but he'll bite to protect you boys." They nodded at that. "Wild magic is more like a wolf. It's wild, not tame. It doesn't come when you call, it comes when it wants. It won't let you pet it unless you've beaten it. It means Alex is more stubborn too," she admitted, getting a grin from Sam. "So we have to work on how to control and how to call them to you properly. Otherwise it can do bad things, like cause fires or hurt people unintentionally."
"Which would be bad," Alex agreed. "I don't want to be bad. Sam wouldn't be my friend then."
"That's right," she agreed.
"Nah-uh! I like my friends even when they do naughty things or else I wouldn't like Dean anymore. He plays pranks that're mean." He looked at Alex. "Unless you turn into a really bad guy we'll still be friends." Alex beamed, giving him a hug.
"Aww," Dontel said from the doorway. "That's so cute." He took a picture and winked at his aunt. "Grandfather just showed up."
"Sam's taint. They want to test it, make sure of what they can do." He let him outside, coming out to hold Alex. "You're next anyway and it shouldn't hurt him," he assured the little boy in his lap.
"Why?" Sam asked the elf he didn't know.
"Because we need to remove that taint before it can hurt you, Sam. Alex has one from where he was born. You have a different sort. Once we do we think it'll be easier to teach you magic."
Sam nodded. "I can understand that I guess. It was hard seeing it earlier." Florian smiled at him, shifting some for her uncle to sit down. Sam watched what he was doing. "I can see the magic flowing," he said happily.
"Don't try to do anything with it," Florian warned him. "Just let it happen, Sam."
He winced as it touched his skin but it wasn't that bad. Alex saw the wince though and growled. "Alex," Dontel warned, giving him a squeeze. "Sam, tell him it's not hurting you?"
"It felt funny but it didn't hurt, Alex," he promised, calming him down. He reached over to touch him on the head.
Their grandfather stared at the new reading. "Hmm, they do suit each other. They have complementary shielding." He got back to work on Sam's taint then shifted to look over Alex. Alex... well, the test did hurt him. He sent up a howl like a banshee. For which Sam scowled and stole Alex from Dontel to cuddle and calm down. "It shouldn't have hurt him."
"Well it did," Sam said firmly. "You can't hurt Alex."
"Let me try this a different way," Florian ordered, casting it before Sam could protest. That one wasn't much better. "'Tis the wild magic, Uncle."
"I can see that." He brought down the boy's shields the easy way, he knocked them both into a nap. Then he checked them over again. Now it was more clear. "Alex shielded them both somehow." He smiled at his niece. "He'll be strong."
"He's clearly going to be stubborn with wild magic," she told him.
"Good for him." He finished up and made his notes then stood up, waking the boys up. "The pain came from the shield Alex put around you both," he told Sam. "Once it was down it didn't hurt him any. Making you take a nap helped that. We'll work on that later." He walked off, disappearing to head back to the other senior mages. They had to find a way to remove the blood taint soon. Plus Alex's. There was someone in his old town that was looking for a good sacrifice and had marked him as a backup.
Sam scowled at Florian. "He was mean."
"He didn't mean to be mean," Dontel told him. "He was trying to help. Like sometimes nurses and doctors have to give you a small pain to help you be better, like shots."
"Shots don't make you feel better," Sam snorted. "They make you feel sick."
"They're to make sure you don't get sick," Florian assured him. Sam shrugged and got up, taking Alex inside to take a bath with him. They needed a bath and Alex liked to play in the bubbles. Florian looked at her nephew. "Now what?"
"Now we teach them more about their skills," he said dryly. "Slowly for sure but we have to teach them."
"I agreed. What about their other education?"
"Once we get a new teacher, we can send them on." That got a nod and she left. He went to make the boys a snack, bringing it up to them with a smile. "Here we go, a good snack while you play bubbles." He patted them both on the head then turned off the water before leaving them alone. He wasn't used to foundling children, or really any children, but those two were wearing on his nerves now and then by being so stubborn and a bit odd.
Sam sighed when Dontel brought them back to the school a few days later. "Do we have to do this again?"
"Yes," Dontel said firmly. "You need a good education for whatever you're going to do, lads." He walked them up to the playground. The other kids were playing. "You two go make some other friends. Never can have too many you know." He went to talk to the teacher, letting her know what they could already do and warning her about their gifts.
Sam took Alex over to the swings, pushing him some like Dean did to him, getting a grin back. "We need a bigger brother to push us both," he decided when he wanted to swing.
A girl bounced over with a smile. "Hi, I'm Stewie."
"I'm Sam and he's Alex," Sam said politely. Florian would spank if they weren't polite. "You're a girl, why do you want to play with boys?"
She laughed. "I don't mind boys. You're not all icky yet." She bounced off. "We're in the sandbox if you want to help us."
"I like swings," Alex said quietly, glancing at Sam, who smiled. "But there's a free one."
"Maybe she'll come back soon," Sam decided. He worked the swing like Dean had shown him when he had the sprained wrist that meant he couldn't push him. It went. He beamed. "Do what I'm doing, Alex." Alex slowly tried it and the swing moved. Dontel came over to push them both, earning happy, beaming smiles from his boys. "Thank you, Dontel."
"You're welcome, boys. Why aren't you two playing?"
"Alex likes swings."
"Good. Swings are good for you." He gave them another push. "School starts soon." They both huffed but followed the other students inside. He went home to clean his house. Boys were messy!
Sam came out of the school, looking around. "They're not here," he said with a pout.
Alex banged into his back then moved around him. "Why not?"
"Maybe they got lost," Stewie told them. "Do you live by me? You can walk home with Ma Cherise and me."
"No thank you," Sam told her. "I'm not sure we live over that way."
She nodded. "I can understand you don't like girls yet." She kissed Alex on the cheek with a smile. "You need to calm down." She walked off talking with her 'mother'.
Sam helped Alex wipe off his cheek. "Girls, eww," he muttered. Alex giggled and nodded. He sighed. Everyone else was gone. Well, he was a Winchester, he could handle a minor problem like this one. "C'mon, I think I remember how we got here." He walked off with Alex. Alex pointed at something. "We did stop to stare at the bakery," he agreed. They walked past it, only pausing to stare since they weren't making anything right now. They ran into a park they didn't remember and Sam huffed. "We're not lost," he said firmly.
Alex smiled and pointed. "Horsy, Sam. We found a horsy."
Sam looked. "That is a horsy." He ran over, Alex following. "Is that your horsy?" he asked the pretty woman. He wasn't sure why all the women around him were very pretty. It was strange but he didn't really miss the people without teeth and who had ugly faces that liked to stare at him.
She smiled at them. "That is my Elvensteed," she promised. She led him closer to the boys, helping them onto a bench so they could pet her nose. "Her name's Carnation. My foundling named her."
"She's pretty like you are," Alex said with a shy smile.
She tweaked his nose. "It's nice to be as pretty as a horse, lad. Where do you two belong? You should have an adult with you."
"They forgot to pick us up from school," Alex said with a grimace. "So we were going home."
"Hmm. Which Da's yours?" she asked.
"I don't know him."
"There's Aunt Florian and Blueberry too," Alex said.
"Her I know." she said with a smile. "Let me get one of them." She looked around and summoned the dog. Blueberry was a well known hound that liked to protect the local children. He got there shortly and Dontel was running after him. "Forgot they went to school?" she asked patiently.
"No. I was taking a nap and slept too long. I'm sorry, boys. I didn't mean to sleep so long."
"Look, a horsy," Sam told him, looking serious.
"I can see the horsy, boys. She's beautiful." He patted her on the neck. "You done getting petted?" he asked the horse. She shook her head so the boys got to fuss some more. He finally pulled the boys off the horse and put them on the ground next to the dog. "We can look at Florian's Elvensteed later," he promised with a smile. "Thank you."
The other elf pinched his cheek. "You're adorably young, Dontel. You'll learn about napping." She patted each boy on the head with a smile. "You were very good. Good job." They beamed and she walked her horse off, chatting to the mystical creature about them.
"Were you two trying to walk home?" he guessed. They nodded, looking serious. "I'm sorry I overslept. C'mon, I'll show you the way home so you don't have to wander again." He walked off with them, the dog following them sniffing things all around them. The dog did growl at someone so Dontel stared at them but Sam dragged Alex off again so he had to follow. He did send a note to his grandfather about that one. Just in case it was a problem. Blueberry guarded those boys very well.
Sam stared at the teacher. "Why do we have to have tests?" he whined.
"To prove you learned it, Sam."
"But Dean doesn't give tests when he teaches me things. I learn really good from him."
"But I'm not Dean so I need to make sure you've learned things from me too." He sulked. Alex gave him a hug. "It's not that bad. I'm sure you can do the test very easily and get a very good grade." Alex pouted too and she felt something off. "No using magic, boys."
"Not," Alex pouted. "Just puppy eyes." He added them and she crumbled.
"Fine, we'll have a test tomorrow. I'll expect you to both do excellently on it," she said firmly, turning away from the continuing pout. "Playtime," she ordered. They all ran outside. Mysteriously, the pouting and pitiful noises stopped. She groaned, writing a note to Dontel and Florian about those two so they could correct them. Again. It was bad enough that the dog seemed to want to learn with them some days. Now Alex was clearly going to go to the dark side with that pout. Sadly, he was dragging Sam with him.
Florian walked up to the boys that afternoon, staring at them. "You're both grounded for the rest of this week."
"Why?" Alex whined. "We were good."
"Pouting is not good, Alex. Neither of you should have pouted her into not giving a test."
"But tests are *boring*!" Sam complained. "Plus it doesn't show whether or not I learned anything."
"It does so. Rooms, now. Separately." They sulked all the way up there. "No, Blueberry. They're in trouble. You stay down here." Alex sniffled but she knew to avoid looking at him. "Tough. To your room, Alex, or I'm only fixing vegetables for dinner." He stomped up there, still sulking. She found Dontel on the couch with a damp cloth over his eyes. "Drive you a headache?" she asked, sounding fond.
"Slightly, yes. Why? What happened now?"
"They pouted the teacher into not giving a test today." Her nephew moaned at that, shifting onto his side. "They're grounded all week."
"Yes they are." He patted the dog since it was giving him pitiful looks. "You can play with them when they're not in trouble." He looked up at his aunt. "They're being bad on purpose."
"They're pushing their boundaries to see how far they can go," she corrected. "You have to maintain a good set of guidelines for them, Dontel." She walked off shaking her head. Those boys were enough to make saints drink sometimes. "I said separate rooms," she called up from the garden. She could hear giggling. "Right now before I have to come up there." A door slammed. She sighed, heading to her house to get a drink. Really, the boys were good most of the time. She wasn't sure which one was the trouble maker. They both looked like innocent little angels.
John Winchester trapped the sidhe in his cold iron devil's trap, sneering at it. "Why are you after my son?" he asked him, looking calm.
"I saw he was marked. I was checking on why," he pleaded.
Dean looked at him. "I was underhill but only to visit my dorky little brother who has magic." The elf gaped. He stared. "He's not a nice one, Dad. He doesn't have a horse like some of the ones around Sammy."
"No, he doesn't have an elvensteed," he agreed. "Good catch, Deano." He smiled at his boy then sneered at the mystical creature again. "So, you say you're Seelie?"
"I am," he assured him quickly.
Dean pulled out his new pet frog, which his father hated. Especially since he had given it a name like Sammy would have. "Pet my Herbert?" He held it up. The elf sneered. The frog got away from his touch as fast as he could. "Nope, you're not a good guy elf." He went to catch his frog. His father was going to do grown up hunter things to the elf that he didn't need to know about. Yet.
"Still say you're a Seelie elf?" John sneered.
"Just because a frog didn't like me," he started. A shimmer started and he tried to lunge at it but the cold iron around him stopped him. "Help?" he asked the creature.
John shot it then him. "No, he won't help you." He got the lighter fluid and burned them both. Then he went to check on Dean and his frog. "Why are you still carrying that thing around?"
"I need a pet to talk to since I don't have Sammy anymore," he said, glaring at his father. "Not like you let me have a dog like Uncle Bobby's."
"It's too hard to travel with a dog, Dean." He got into the Impala. Dean got into the passenger's side. His frog went into his little plastic former fish tank that he traveled in. And off they went to the next Unseelie bastard that might bother Sammy before they got the family's problem demon. Because if they had to take out every single bad elf and that demon, so be it. They would be getting Sammy back.
Dean was let into the house by Dontel, who let him look around all he wanted. He saw the messy library and smirked at the elf. "My dorky little brother?" he asked, pointing at it.
"Possibly. Or possibly it was Blueberry. Alex had a surge of magic when he got sick last time. The dog learned how to read for a few days. I was sure it had ended."
Dean gave him an amazed look. "What?"
He smirked. "They're upstairs, Dean."
Dean walked up the stairs, listening to the boys talk about something. He opened the door and looked at him. "Are you being a nerd, Sammy?" he asked with a grin.
"Dean!" he shouted, hopping up to hug him. "You came back to visit?"
"Yup. Hey, Alex and Blueberry." He wasn't going to wonder why the dog had a book in front of him too. "Are we reading?"
Sammy pulled him down, beaming at him. "Alex is getting really good at reading, Dean. I've helped him tons." Alex beamed at him and nodded so his hair flopped around. "You need a haircut."
"I can do it later," Dontel called up the stairs. "Want a snack, boys?"
"Yes please!" Sam yelled. He beamed at Dean. "Can we have chocolate? Dean loves chocolate."
Dean snickered. "Way to use me to get candy, Sammy." He ruffled his hair. "Alex isn't the only one that needs a haircut. You almost have girl hair."
"No I don't," he pouted. "Take it back!"
"Once it gets cut, it'll be boy hair," he promised. Sam beamed and nodded, snuggling against his side. "You guys still good and all that?"
Alex grimaced but nodded. "We have lessons every few days with Aunt Florian for magic stuff. It's neat but it's very tiring. We can't play those days and they *still* make us eat vegetables."
Dontel walked a large bowl in, handing it to Dean. "I told you before, it's only in the bad fairytales that kids get that much candy, boys. Since we're good elves, you can't have sweets all the time."
Dean smirked. "Wearing on your patience, dude?"
"Nah. They're good boys most of the time. Now and then...." Dean snickered, nodding some. "How's your father?"
"Good. We've found six Unseelie elves recently." Dontel stared at him. Dean handed over the letter, letting the boys have the bowl of pudding that had three spoons in it.
Dontel read it. "I see. I'll give this to my grandfather. Thank you, Dean. Want to stay in Sammy's room tonight? Half the time the boys curl up together after I put them down."
"That'd be fine. Thank you, Dontel."
"You're welcome, lad." He patted him on the head and went to call his grandfather to see that very interesting letter. He sat by the bottom of the stairs, listening to the boys chat about what they were learning in school and from Aunt Florian. Sam asked him about school but he noticed the boy didn't really answer the question, making him frown. He'd have to have words with the father again it seemed. His grandfather walked in waving the letter. "From Sam's father. Dean's down for a visit."
"I see." He looked up there then at him. "It's helpful."
Dean leaned out of the room to look at him. "Dad said he'd make sure nothing bad could ever hurt Sammy. Even while you guys were teaching him freaky shit." He went back to talking to them. "So, magic?" he asked.
Sam beamed and nodded. "It's kind of cool. Alex nearly blew up the teacher the first day because she wasn't a real girl."
"Plus it let Blueberry read too," Alex said with a grin.
"Dontel told me about that." He patted the boy on the head, getting his hand pushed back against. "Sammy needs to pet you like he does the dog?" he joked.
"I do," Sam said with a pout. "Alex likes to be petted. Maybe some day he'll figure out how to change into a puppy dog, Dean."
"I might like that," Alex agreed.
"That's not our sort of magic, boys," Dontel called up the stairs.
"Shoot. Can he change into a kitty cat then? Blueberry won't mind," Sam called.
"No, changing your own shape isn't our form of magic. That's in some myths. You can ask Aunt Florian why the next time she's teaching you boys in the garden."
"Yes, sir," they called, then grinned at each other and dug into the pudding. Sam handed Dean his spoon, getting a grin back. It was excellent pudding. The boys chatted until well after dinner; Dontel brought it up to them instead of making them eat at the table like usual. They settled into the same bed for a sleepover. It was fun having Dean visit. He needed to do it more often.
Dontel appeared next to where John and Bobby were waiting, handing John a letter. "From my Grandfather. I passed on your note to him. He was amused and amazed. Inside's pictures of the boys too. Sam demanded that you get pictures of Alex too." John smiled and nodded, checking his son over before handing him to Bobby. "He was good as gold. Ate every night, slept most of them too. Didn't try to sneak the boys off more than once. He might've succeeded but an Elvensteed made them all stop to pet her." Dean groaned, shaking his head. "Got him the same haircut the boys needed." He smiled at Dean. "Check on your pet?"
"I know, an adult talk about the letter," he sighed, heading off to check on his frog.
"John Winchester, did you think your oldest son didn't need an education?" he asked, staring him down. "There's no reason for his schooling to lack, even when you travel. Your younger son should be years behind him, not starting to catch up to him."
"It's been hard to get to these last few months," he admitted. He knew that elf would take his older son too. It showed in his eyes. That and that the guy wanted a weapon. "I'll try harder this fall when it starts again."
"You can sit at a table with him and a book," he reminded him. "The same way you teach him hunting creatures." He looked at Bobby. "The boys wanted to know if your dog wanted to play with Blueberry. They think your dog's sad without any kids playing with him since Dean doesn't seem to play anymore either."
"I wouldn't mind if the boys came up for a visit with their dog," he offered. "Give John a way to check over his younger boy."
Dontel smirked. "I'll see what we can if they're not grounded again. Sammy threw an absolute fit that he couldn't sneak out to pet the Elvensteeds anymore." He looked at John, giving him a pointed look. "The Court was amused, John Winchester, but they did say thank you. It eases some pressure on us." He smiled at Dean when he peeked around the corner. "Behave and we'll see you sometime soon, Dean. You were very well behaved this time." He disappeared.
"Dad, you would not *believe* how many times he made us eat vegetables."
"It's what good parents do," Bobby told him. "How's their dog doing?"
"Alex magiced him able to read for a while. I'm not sure if he still can or not." John groaned, shaking his head. "He was sick."
"That's why they're getting lessons every few days with Aunt Florian. Who gave us all haircuts. Sammy nearly had girl hair, Dad. I made sure you got some pictures of that and his hair too. Just in case you wanted it for his scrapbook."
John smirked at his very devious son. "Which could lead to a good witch doing a locating charm or even a summoning," he said, giving him a hug. "I caught your frog some worms."
"I know, he's eating one." He grinned at Bobby, handing over the drawings. "Sammy did those. That's his school and his town, the house and library they go to, and the huge park where they go to pounce Elvensteed to pet them whenever they can sneak away."
John smiled. "Good job, son." They went inside to look it over. Dean got sniffed a few times by the dog. "You smell like herbs."
"Their shower stuff. The shampoo smells like mint. The soap smells like lye soap with herbs. They don't have mosquitos down there though. I guess the soap drove them off. Flies too." His father pointed at the bathroom. "Thanks, Dad." He ran out to get clothes then went to wash off the smelly stuff. You couldn't hunt and stalk things if you smelled like an herb market.
Bobby looked up at John. "He had a good point about the schooling, John. You haven't had him there since Sammy disappeared. It's been nearly a year."
"I'll start with him this summer," he promised, sitting down to look them over. "I thought it was girls who went horse mad," he said quietly.
"Elvensteeds aren't exactly horses. They're mythical creatures as much as unicorns are. Maybe the boys will try to adopt one. Could be handy and help protect Sammy from his own worst luck with dangerous stuff."
"Maybe," he agreed. He looked at the pictures, smiling at the happy, beaming ones of Alex and Sammy. "Alex is adorable glued to Sammy's side." He let him see it.
Bobby smiled. "He's been helping Alex like Dean did to him I'd guess." He handed it back. "Sammy did need a haircut." John showed him one of the ones after the haircut. "Aww, they gave them buzz cuts."
"I made sure she did," Dean called. "Sammy had girl hair. Alex too!"
"Yes he did. Good job, son." He went back to looking them over. Sammy surrounded by stacks of books made him smile, showing it off to his very bookish friend.
"Looks like Sammy's got the reading gene," he teased back. "Soon he'll be like me."
"I'd enjoy that more than him being a mage," he admitted. "Or even a priest."
Bobby patted him on the back. "We'll get that demon, John. You know we will." He nodded and they went back to looking over the very nice drawings the boys had made of their surroundings. "There's no fence to keep back the wild areas," Bobby realized.
"No, it's like an invisible wall," Dean said as he walked back in. "I crossed it the first time I was down there. It made me tingly but it was also creepy and made me want to run. Alex told me they told them that there's bad creatures out there, like land sharks."
"Land sharks?" John asked.
"Alex's former friend Jesse had seen a special about sharks. Sammy said he compared them and Dontel told him it wasn't water so they'd have to be land sharks but they were vicious and ate anything they could. Plus other things."
"So trekking through the wild areas isn't a good idea then," John decided. Bobby nodded quickly. "I wonder if we could get the Impala down there."
"Dad, steel has iron, right?"
"Good point, Son. It could hurt the others." He patted him on the back. "Go get a book and work on reading it."
"Must I?" he complained.
John looked at him and nodded. "I got nagged that you're not in school too."
"Damn it." Bobby swatted him but he found a decent enough book to read over. John smirked at him for his choice. It was in rudimentary Latin. "Hey, I need to know," he said at the smirk. Bobby switched it out for a copy in English. "Thanks, Uncle Bobby. I need to work on my Latin."
"We can do that," John assured him. "Plus other skills." Dean nodded, sighing a bit at the end before going back to his reading.
"Don't forget math," Bobby teased.
John swatted him. "I won't." They went back to planning how to rescue his son and Alex. Because he knew his son wouldn't leave without the other boy, even if he was pouting at him. Sammy always wanted to keep friends.
Fourteen Years Later
Sam and Alex were walking around the campus, looking at their new college. Dontel hadn't wanted to let them go yet, but they needed to go to college. This one was good and they could do some good things for people up here with their skills. Both of them were going to help a lot of people and feed the elves information that they needed to hear. And hey, if Alex was a bit clingy no one would really mind here in California anyway. Not like they were in an anti-gay city.
Sam smiled at Alex. "Did you want to live on campus?"
"Can we not live in the dorm?"
"Not real sure," he admitted. "I don't like the sound of that roommate lottery system."
"Me either. I already got a letter saying my roommie is a pain in the ass." Sam gave him a dirty look. "I talked to His Christianness. He said he hoped it was okay if he put up crosses all over our room. I told him no, it wasn't. He threw a fit about me not being Christian and said he'd complain."
"I didn't get mine yet."
"It's on the table."
"Crap." He called it to him to look over. Summoning a letter wasn't that hard for him to do even out here. "No, this is not happening." He let him see it. He had a girl for a roommate. "How did that happen?"
"Maybe she can go live with mine. Not like he'll probably touch her. Well, maybe he'll be a cult leader some year but probably not yet."
Sam smirked. "We'll talk to them." They went to the housing office to get that straightened out. "Hi, we're incoming freshmen."
"It's a lottery," the receptionist said with a sigh.
"That's why you put me with a future cult leader who wants to put crosses all around my room when I'm a Pagan and his is a girl?" Alex asked.
She winced. "Ooh, sorry. Sometimes the system does twitch wrong."
Sam nodded. "Can we just live off campus? We're boyfriends."
She looked at him. "You need to live on campus your first year, boys. It means you're more likely to graduate."
"We'd end up switching roommies anyway," Alex told her. "Because I'm not living with the psycho cult leader who ranted and raved that I'm not Christian because I don't want his crosses all over my room. I'll switch schools. I got offered full ride to a number of them. Sam got even more than I did."
"I think I talked to your roommate already." She went to talk to her director. He had talked to the roommate of that one and she mentioned the other one was a female student and he was male. Plus they were together. He signed a waiver. She brought it out with a smile. "There you are, boys. Find somewhere nearby and make sure you make it to classes."
Alex beamed at her. "Thank you." He gave her a short hug and they bounced out together. He grinned at Sam once they were outside. "So, where should we start looking?"
"I like the looks of that place," he said with a point at a nearby flier. "It's got a pool and I know you like to swim."
Alex looked then pouted. "Not really. I mean I like swimming but that's got ten stories, Sam. We have earthquakes out here."
Sam nodded. "Good point. We'll find a shorter apartment building." They went to the student union to find a paper. They found a whole bulletin board with listings for apartments. They wrote down a few.
"Samuel Winchester," a male voice said behind them.
"No I'm not." He looked around.
"You are, Sammy. I remember your baptism, kinda." Dean stared at his little brother. "You're going here? You're Alex. You grew up too."
"I did try really hard," he said dryly. "But he's not Sam, Dean."
"Is he a construct?" he hissed.
"Mages have use names," Sam said quietly. "To protect us. If they know our real names it makes it easier for them to hurt us."
"Oh." Dean stared at him. "You didn't call when you got released?"
"You haven't shown up in six years," Sam pointed out.
"Your guardian wouldn't let us," he said coolly. "Not since Dad shot that one guy who was trying to snatch me."
"That wasn't why," Alex said, walking off. "C'mon, guys. Let's do the practical thing where there's not a lot of other students," he said firmly when they didn't follow. Sam nodded and followed. Dean huffed but followed, sending his father a text message. Once they were outside on a bench by a little used building entrance, he looked at them. "It wasn't that."
"What was it then?" Dean asked. "Dad got hellishly pissed with them for that."
"That was more that the elfhame got attacked," Sam said quietly. "We had to move for a bit." Dean glared at him. "Not because of us. We were pretty close to an Unseelie hame and they decided it'd be a good time to attack since they were all working on our training. Two half-trained kids when a bunch of the elders were at the court over something going on up that way weren't going to be enough to stop them."
"Then I pulled up some wild magic during the attack and nearly killed the town too," Alex said, looking down. Sam stroked his back, earning a shy smile. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He smiled at Dean. "We weren't sure we could get people down there, Dean. Everyone was told to leave Underhill by another area instead of directly from the village."
"So you.... How?" he asked finally, his mind trying to fit around that.
Alex shrugged. "I got frustrated that the things weren't dying. So I kinda decided to try to harm them with some iron and ended up unraveling part of the barrier," he admitted. "The King was not happy but he understood how it happened during battles. I helped fix it but it was considered unstable for a bit longer. They didn't want to chance bringing anyone down and getting them trapped. Half of us moved."
"Why didn't you send a message?" Dean demanded.
"How?" Sam asked. "Not like we had the phone number."
Dean groaned, rubbing his face. Then he looked up at him. "Okay, so a misunderstanding. We'll be happier at that." He stood up, staring at his geeky little brother. "You're coming home?"
"No, Alex and I are going to college."
"Why didn't he get a new name?" he demanded.
Alex shrugged. "No one knows me and I can only use wild magic and some basic elemental skills, Dean. I'm not really handy to have *here*. Plus Dontel and Aunt Florian thought that they're kinda wary of me at the moment. The people who attacked complained about me and the Queen threatened to send me to live with them for a month of pouting and unraveling their village unless they quit." Dean snorted. Alex pouted. "I would have. They'd take me away from Archin."
"You named yourself Archin?" Dean asked.
Sam shrugged. "It got chosen for me."
"Oh." He sighed, staring at him. "You're coming back to hunting?"
"No, we're both going to be studying here. If people need us, we'll be helping them but we both agreed we need an education to help best since we're not hands-on sorts."
"I kinda am but I hate being that sweaty. Though I can forge weapons," Alex admitted with a grin. "I'm a good sword forger."
Dean stared at him. "Most of the world uses guns these days."
"We're not fully of this world, Dean."
"Good point. Maybe." He stared at Sam again. "Dad'll be here by tonight probably."
"We're finding an apartment. He can come visit, but I'm not going back to hunting." He stood up to face off with Dean. That's when he realized he was taller than his brother. He was fully grown and they weren't kids anymore. "I'm sorry but I can do so much more here. I can even take in hunters since I plan on turning into a psychologist."
Alex beamed at him. "He does good when you want to vent. Stewie used to."
Sam gave him a gentle smile and a kiss. "Relax. She's happier."
"I know but it sucks."
"Stewie?" Dean asked.
"Our female friend?" Sam prompted.
"Oh, her, yeah. What about her?"
"Well, her Ma wouldn't let us stay together," Alex admitted quietly. "Said she deserved someone who was only hers. She's getting married next month."
"Uh-huh. So you guys were a trio and her mother showed sense?" Dean decided.
Alex shrugged. "Matter of opinion."
"He nearly sulked the house into changing colors," Sam told him.
"Archin there nearly sulked the food into growing new trees in the kitchen," Alex added with a pout for his mate.
Dean held up a hand. "I don't need or want details." They shrugged. "Where are you guys staying tonight?"
"Motel until we can find a place," Alex said. "We were going to do that this afternoon. You can help us look if you want. You probably have more experience with moving than we do."
"No probably about it," Dean told him dryly. "C'mon." They walked off. Sam stopped to stare at the car. "Yeah, she's mine now." He grinned. "Dad's got a truck."
"That's cool," he said quietly, smiling at his big brother. "I did miss you nagging that I needed a haircut, Dean."
"Good. Just wait because Dad'll throw a fit about your girly hair, Sa... Archin. That'll take some getting used to."
"Yeah, well, it's better and safer," Alex said firmly. "It means I don't have to destroy anyone else who bothers him." He gave him a sweet smile.
"They all think I'm the tough one until they piss Alex off," Sam told him with a grin. "Alex, want front or back?"
"Back so you can sit with your brother." He handed over their list. "That's who was advertising."
Dean looked it over. "A lot of college places."
"But with more students we'll be better able to fit in," Sam said quietly.
"Good point I guess. But you'll get annoyed by all the partying."
Sam shrugged. "We loved May Day celebrations and we can do a silencing spell easily enough."
"Good to know." He took them to look at the places. The ones Alex liked he didn't. They were too easy to get into. Too many reasons to draw demons to the students who lived there. One barely had any locks and had an apartment that was taped off by the police. Dean got a paper and found one for them, taking them to it. It was nicer, but a bit downtrodden. Cheaper too. Had decent enough locks. Alex refused to walk inside though. He hissed something about spirits and death to Sam who agreed without having to do more than look inside. Dean stared at him. "You can see spirits?" Dean asked once they were in the car.
"Yeah, he's a medium," Sam admitted. "I don't want him tormented by the kid who killed themselves in there." Dean stared at him. "I can kind of feel it through him sometimes."
"So you two are more than friends?" he guessed.
"Mated," Sam said with a smile. Alex beamed at him. "Last summer."
"I guess that's cool. Let me tell Dad that before you two announce it?" They shrugged. "Good." He drove them to a newer spot closer to the college. This one looked really nice. The manager was slimy. Alex was staring at his back. "What?" he hissed when the manager got onto the first elevator with Sam.
"He's a half-demon," he admitted. "But one of the harmless kinds." He shrugged. "It's odd but there's protections around this one." They went up the next one and Alex stopped at the doorway. "Any that didn't have people die in it?" he asked. The manager gave him a horrified look. "I'm a sensitive."
"Oh. No wonder you came here. A few of you have. I'm harmless to your sort."
Alex grinned. "I know that but you need to spirit clean that one. She's *really* unhappy. Something about her ex cheating in her bed so she killed them then herself?"
"Nearly ten years ago. I've been trying."
Alex walked in and cleared his throat. "Um, Heidi?" he called. He had felt her name with her essence. She appeared, glaring at him. "He's gone, dear. You shot him." She threw a fit. It was like it wasn't affecting him any but Sam was nearly blown across the hallway. He stared her down. "Stop that, you selfish bitch." She huffed but stopped. "Leave my man the hell alone, girl. Before we force you on." She glared, then disappeared. "It's been a decade. You think you can get over it and move on now? Since you killed him and her trifling butt?" He felt her leave and grinned at the manager. "There you go. She went to her sorority house."
"That's fine. You two are together?" Alex beamed and nodded, pulling Sam into his arms to cuddle. "We don't usually take in gay students."
"I'm the one who has his control," Sam said with a grin of his own.
"Uh-huh." He looked at Dean. "You theirs too?"
"Archin's my baby brother. This was news to me today."
"I guess that's fine. We do demand a deposit and not in fairy gold."
Alex beamed. "We have money and scholarships."
"Even better I guess." Sam pulled out the checkbook for the account they had set up a few months back. He wrote out the deposit and first month's rent and let them both sign it before handing it over. "That'll work as long as it's good." He stared at them.
"It was our wedding present," Alex pouted.
"That's mean," Sam said firmly.
"Sorry, I won't pout at you."
The half-demon stared at him. "Where are you from originally?"
"Sunnydale," he said with a grin. The demon stiffened. "They saved me from my yard after dark."
"That's a good reason. Sure. You have a few neighbors from my clan."
"As long as they're nice and harmless the only one that might mind is our Dad," Sam told him.
"I'll put that around. When are you two moving in?"
"Tonight, we're at a motel," Alex said.
"Let me deposit this." He went to the bank while the boys went to pack their things. It went through so it was fine with him. He handed over the keys when they came back. "Don't cause me any problems."
"We'll try not to," Sam assured him. "We're polite boys. Our Dad might throw some fits at first but otherwise we'll be good."
"I'll put that around." He went to warn the other demons and half-demons in the building. Two who had been raised by elves weren't a problem but he knew why kids got taken by them.
Dean coughed, smirking at him. "He got taken because a demon wanted him as a sacrifice, dude. Not our Dad."
"Crap. That's Alex and Archin?" he demanded.
"Yes we are," Alex called. He grinned down from the walkway. "I'm usually nice."
"I've heard you are. Don't do anything inside the apartment that'll break the protections." He nodded. "Thank you." He went to brag on that. That was a whole different story but he had heard that Archin's family were hunters. So he still needed to warn them. That meant the other boy was one too.
Dean walked up there and shut the door. "What else did you two do?"
"Two or three demons last year," Alex admitted, looking at his mate.
"Which was when they figured out we were truly mated without the ceremony," Sam said with a grin. "We tried to start college last year but it took a few months to finish healing after that battle."
"And we kinda got called on by some allies to help with a bigger apocalypse too this last summer," Alex added.
Dean groaned. "So you're fairly well known?"
"Some know us from that," he admitted. He shrugged. "We keep it quiet but that's why we have use names."
"Fine. I guess. I'll try to calm Dad down."
"He was at that apocalypse but we managed to avoid being seen I think," Alex told him.
"Even better. Blueberry?"
"He went to good doggy heaven," Sam said dryly, giving Alex another pat. "Back when they tried to invade. He tried to protect us but he was really old by then, Dean."
"I'm sorry about that. You know, Bobby can help you train a new one to hunt or help you guys with your thing."
Sam shrugged. "I wouldn't mind seeing Uncle Bobby again. I did wave at him during that apocalypse battle."
"I'll tell him later, after I calm Dad down."
"You can take him grocery shopping," Alex offered. "He's the better cook and he's more fussy too."
"He always was," Dean said dryly. "You sure?"
"I'll be doing protections," he said dryly. "Doing it naked works better for me. Doubt you want to watch me do that, Dean."
"No, not really. I might get weirded out watching my brother's husband do that." He walked out with Sam to get groceries and a few pots and pans.
Alex grinned and stripped down, doing the protections around the apartment. It'd move it slightly out of the normal area. Someone knocked on the door so he opened it, unselfconscious in his nudity. "Hi, sir."
"Protections?" he guessed.
"Yup, and decorating."
"Fine. That'll work. When is his father getting here?"
"No clue. Dean's going to try to calm him down."
"Fine. Remember to put on clothes, kid." He walked off shaking his head. He wasn't going to stare at the mage. It'd be bad when his mate killed him. The rumors said that his mate was a bit jealous and that Alex himself had killed a demon that had wanted his mate for their own.
Alex shut the door and went back to it. A few minor spells to change the colors on the wall and set the protections and they were done. They could hold full battles in here and not break the building's protections now. By the time Dean and Sam got back he had showered and changed, plus made the bed. Sam walked in with the first group of bags, Dean behind him. "I'm done."
Sam gave him a kiss. "Good job. I could feel them outside though."
"Oops." Alex tapped something and they hid themselves until needed. "There you go. Forgot when I went to magically paint."
"That was a cool spell you found in that book when we went to check out your former town." He took another kiss and went to get the other bags.
Dean glanced in the bedroom then at him. "Doesn't that take a lot of magic?"
"No. It's a pretty simple spell. Like a disguise spell on a wall. It doesn't take extra energy to keep up either. I'm not really bouncy now though. Sam likes me better this way," he offered with a grin.
"I don't need to know that either." He went to get the last of it for Sam when he huffed up the stairs. Then he went down to lock up the car and call his father. "Small update," he said in greeting. His father growled. "Use names, mates, and Alex." He listened to his father say what he knew about them. "Archin now. Yeah, that's why, Dad. Mates? Yes as in with Alex. Apparently they're a bit known. Oh, he said he waved at Bobby during some apocalypse battle you didn't tell me about?"
His father growled he had thought he had seen him. "Well, they're here now and they're going to school, Dad. He wants to be a shrink of some sort. Said he'd help hunters. Said he'd help around here whenever someone needed him to. That's where we are, yeah. Oh, building's protected, Alex did some extra on their apartment, then magically painted." He nodded. "Decent. I'll warn them. No, they got a waiver to live off campus. I saw it. Even better. Thanks, Dad." He hung up and walked inside. "Dad'll be here tomorrow night," he said before he shut the door. The manager was still snooping so he'd tell the others. He'd get used to that sometime.
"That's fine. I can make a good dinner," Sam promised with a smile. He had called the furniture from where Dontel had stored it for them. Florian had given them some of her older stuff and Dontel too. He was on the couch with Alex in his lap. "We have a spare bedroom if you want to hit it, Dean."
"Thanks." He went to shower and lay down to give them some privacy. He texted his father a more concrete warning about the mate thing. He did not need to see Sammy and Alex make out either. Dean wouldn't ask why Alex was giggling. He was sure Sammy was good to his boy.
John walked up to the apartment Dean had texted him, knocking on the door. A boy he didn't know answered it. "Archin here?"
"Upstairs. He's in two-thirteen, not one-thirteen, sir."
"Sorry." He went up there. "Dean," he complained when his older son answered the door.
"Sorry, Dad, finger slipped and didn't realize."
"Whatever." He walked in and stared at his son. He was taller than both him and Dean. "Son."
"Hi, Dad." He grinned at him. "We're having cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers in a few minutes if you wanted to clean up."
He blinked a few times. "You can cook?"
"Aunt Florian made sure of it," Alex promised with a grin. "Even if she did make sure Sam liked vegetables way too much."
Sam huffed, staring at his mate. "They're good for you. Or don't you remember eating too much candy that time?"
"Well, yeah, but we never have meat."
Sam grinned at getting his own way. "There's hamburger in the cabbage rolls." Alex beamed at that. He rolled his eyes, getting back to the finishing touches on the salad. His father walked in and hugged him. He looked at him. "I'm fine."
"I haven't seen you in years, son."
"No, don't be. I heard why from Dean. You should have told us."
Sam grimaced. "No way to really get a message, Dad. None of the others would get near your temper to give you one directly. They thought you might shoot them."
"Fine." He let him go, looking him over. "You look good. Healthy." Sam grinned and nodded. "No injuries from the last thing?"
"No, they all healed. A few scars but nothing else. Alex had more than I did. It seemed to like him for some reason."
"That's fine." He stared at him. "Hunting?"
"Handling things that come up where we're at? Yes we will be," he said firmly. Dean snickered. "He tried to get us to go hunting last night and we refused, Dad."
"He's still more stubborn than I am, Dad, and Alex is even worse."
John looked at Alex then at his son. "You could have told me about the mated thing, son."
"They figured it out during the battle," he said with a small shrug. "We knew we were together before then. They made it official and told us. Then Dontel made us do the formal stuff."
"Fine. I still should have heard."
Sam grimaced. "Dad, how would we have told you? Not like we had a phone number."
"No fighting," Alex and Dean ordered. Then Alex stuck his tongue out at Dean and grinned.
Dean smirked back. "That's not for me, that's for him," he said with a head-nod at Sammy.
"Well, yeah," he agreed with a wicked smirk.
"That'll take some getting used to," John told Alex, staring at him down.
Alex, being Alex, bounced over and hugged him from behind. "Thanks, Daddy." He bounced off again while Dean snickered.
"Sorry, sometimes he likes to be a kitsune," Sam said dryly. Alex stuck his tongue out at him too. He came out to kiss him. "Behave."
"I try really hard."
"Try harder and I'll give rewards," he teased back.
Alex hummed. "I could like rewards."
"I know you do. Remember, you have classes tomorrow."
"Crap, not enough time for rewards until this weekend."
"Then you'll definitely get a good one," he said with a wink. Alex gave him a wicked smirk. "Finish setting the table while I pull out food. Dean, show Dad the bathroom?" He did that. Sam took a kiss. "Calm down," he hissed. "He won't be that upset." Alex stared at him. "I know you're worried. Calm down anyway and we'll call home to get cookies." Alex smiled and nodded. Sam took another kiss, getting a moan.
"Not again," Dean complained.
"Many times a day," Alex quipped.
"More than I wanted to know about Winchester sex habits outside of my own," he complained.
Sam shrugged. "So?" He went to pull out food while Alex finished setting the table. "Dean, put this out," he said, handing over the salad. He pulled out the cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers, putting them on individual plates before handing those over too. "There." He came out with the water filtration pitcher and sat down to eat. Alex mumbled a quiet prayer over his food. Sam grinned at him for it. "I forgot you still did that."
"The Queen said I should offer up prayers to Danae more often to keep you sane."
"She also said she was a lot like you when she was younger," Sam said dryly. "That's how she knew to do that."
"Well, yeah." He smiled at John. "Relax. I'm not some son stealing man."
"I know that, Alex. Or do you go by another name?"
"They can't hurt me that way because of the wild magic. They're kinda scared of me and wild magic really."
John nodded at that. "I guess that could be dangerous."
Sam nodded. "Kind of, yeah." He kicked Alex under the table, getting a grin. "Eat, people. I'm a good cook thanks to Aunt Florian." They dug in and John nodded he liked it between bites. He gave Alex extra salad, getting a pout. "Behave," he warned.
"I am. You gave me more vegetables."
"You need vegetables to stay strong," John told him.
"Way to sound like a Dad," Dean teased.
"I am a father and he clearly needs more of them. He's too skinny."
"Magic can do that to you if you don't replace the energy you take out," Sam told him. "With him being bouncy, he never keeps weight on." He dug into his own dinner, eating his salad first. "So, how's Uncle Bobby?"
"He's good. Business has been good and the hunting isn't too bad," John told him. "I already called him to tell him you're back. He said to pop around for a visit sometime soon."
"I can do that."
"You can't *pop* around for a visit, right?" Dean asked.
"No, I can't teleport," Sam promised with a grin. "That takes a lot of energy and being on the spirit plane usually."
"Good. That'd be a bit too freaky," Dean decided, stuffing his mouth.
"I did find the spell to let you do that," Xander offered. "I found a few really neat spellbooks when we went to look at Sunnydale." John gave him a horrified look. "I wanted to see if I could find the friends I used to have," he said more gently. "That's how we got involved in that battle." He stuffed his mouth but Sam kicked him under the table again, earning a smile. "I'm okay."
"Good." He grinned back. "Did you pack those?"
"After Aunt Florian threw a fit? Yup." He stuffed his mouth again.
"Do we want to know how bad these books are?" John asked.
"Two he had to hand over for being evil tainted," Sam offered. "The others he was allowed to keep but the Court Mages were not happy. Even though some of them do work specifically on wild magic," Sam told him. "The former mayor had a yard sale of some of his magical supplies." Alex nodded with a grin.
"Interesting. Did we get anything other than spell books?" Dean asked. "Weapons or anything?"
"Yup, got a few weapons too."
"One of which got taken," Sam added. "It had been blood bound when it was forged."
Alex nodded. "I didn't mind that one. It went into a museum. The books got tossed into a fire in the Court's hall. But we were good, we warned Great-Grandfather that we had went to the magical yard sale so they could check them over for us. That's why he and the two Court Mages were waiting on us to show back up."
"It was kind of funny to see that female one flinch at the one book," Sam told him. "Even mentioning the name around her made her twitch. No one told us why when we asked but she had that 'must slay it' twitch instead of a 'past bad event' twitch."
"Oooh," Alex said, wiggling some.
"Electrocuted?" Dean teased with a smile.
"No. Mystical yard sale next month. Dontel told me."
"He did say something about that," Sam admitted. "We can go look. See if there's anything." Alex beamed, leaning over to kiss him. "Mushy," he teased with a smile.
"Well, yeah," he admitted dryly. "But fun."
"Very fun," Sam assured him with a smirk.
John coughed. "I don't want to know about your private times together, son. Really."
"Sorry, Dad. We'll try to tone it down around you." Someone pounded on the door. Sam got up to answer it, looking at the elf on the other side. "You came up here to give us a bag?" he teased, letting Dontel inside.
"Aunt Florian insisted." He handed it over, nodding at John and Dean. He looked at his boys. "We will behave?"
"Of course," Alex promised. "We even got permission to move off campus."
"That's good. Why? Beyond your roommate that you were going to annoy?" he asked Alex.
"They gave me a female one," Sam said with a smirk.
"Ah." He gave him a hug then Alex one, getting a grin back. "Be good, boys. Do good in school. Make us proud. Take the new card in there to the yard sale?" They nodded. "Good boys. Let us check whatever you find that's good. You two manage to find many spell books the last time that shouldn't be in human hands." He patted Alex on the head since that seemed to be mostly his thing. "Write more often."
"We've only been gone a day," Sam pointed out.
Sam grinned. "Mushy, but I'm sure we can visit over the holidays so you don't have to worry about empty nest syndrome."
"I'd like that. Florian too. She's been pouting for days now." He gave them another hug then left.
Sam looked in the bag. "She got that stain out of your shirt finally, Alex." He handed him the bag, letting him put it up. "He's being mushy," he told his father.
"I can understand that. Many parents don't want to let go. He's got as much right to feel that way as I do, son." He stuffed his mouth. He had to admit the elves had taken excellent care of his boy. And the other boy that was giving him a hug from behind and nibbling on his ear. "Alex, maybe you should eat instead of nibbling on him?"
"He's hyper today," Sam told him. "Behave or no reward."
Alex licked his cheek. "Did the lease say we could have pets?"
"I don't know. We can ask." Alex beamed, sitting down to get back to his dinner so John wouldn't be freaked out. "Sorry."
"It happens to all newlyweds," John said, sounding pragmatic about it. "I'm sure Mary and I were just as bad around her parents."
Dean shrugged. "It'll be a while before we find out if I am or not." He looked at Sam. "You sure you want to do it this way?"
"I have a responsibility with my gifts, Dean. I have to use them to help others. I can do that so much better this way than I could by being a roaming hunter. When I'm done with my degree I can help a lot more of them by counseling them when they're on the edge of slipping onto the dark. Besides, I don't think Alex could handle traveling that often."
"Some hunters do pick an area and do it after their normal jobs," John admitted quietly. He glanced at Alex. Then back at his son. "Bobby does it that way."
"I realized that recently. We had to sit down and think a lot after that demon attack a few months back. I'm sorry if I'm disappointing you but I can't be the hunter you and Dean are, Dad. It's not who I am. Especially not now. Maybe if you had raised me, but maybe not. I seem to like school. I spent a lot of time there and teaching Alex too when the teacher didn't go over things that he needed her to."
"He taught me to read too," Alex added with a grin for Dean. "He said he did it just like you did for him."
Dean smiled. "I did teach him to read. He used to ask all sorts of questions about things I had no idea about."
Sam nodded. "I used to drive him nuts. The same way you used to do that to me." Alex smirked at him for that. "You are so getting spanked for that," he noted when he felt the magic touch him.
"I'm being good," he said with an innocent look. "After all, I can't be naughty with your family here."
"Uh-huh," Dean said. "As long as you're not doing long distance stripping charms and keep the mush down, we won't mind as long as you treat Sammy good."
"I need him, Dean. He's like water to me." He stared him down. "I'd die without him. Or at least go insane and then people would have to put me down after my magic lashed out without my control. So still dead I guess."
Dean patted him on the shoulder. "That's good to hear. Now, eat. Don't make him nag. I'm sure Sammy can nag the paint off the walls if he wants to." Alex nodded, cracking Sam and his father up but he did eat. He looked at his little brother. "We'll be checking on you."
"That's why we got a two bedroom," Sam reminded him.
"Good point." He finished up. "Not bad, Sam. Um, Archin. I keep forgetting that."
"It's cool in here. That's one of the reasons I set up protections," Alex assured him. "No one but family can scry in here. Most human witches aren't that powerful. A few human mages are but they shouldn't be able to get through them either." John nodded at that. "Since you two aren't, even if you find one I'm not sure how that'll work unless you're helping with it."
"I can understand that," John assured him. He smiled. "I like that you fuss and take care of Sam for us, Alex."
"Thank you but Sam usually protects me and keeps me out of trouble." He gave him a sheepish look. "It seems to like us."
"A lot," Dean agreed. "Sammy used to draw all sorts of problems."
"He draws more than I do," Sam told him. "Some of that was the gifts shining out though." He stuffed his mouth, cleaning his plate. Alex did the same thing, getting up to clear the table. "You don't have to."
"Yes I do. You cooked."
"You set the table," Sam protested.
Alex looked at him. "Unless you're going to make some constructs to do dishes, yes I do. That was the agreement. You cook, I clean. The next time I cook you can do the dishes for me." He went back to it, coming out for John's plate once he had the water run and John was done. "Talk with your family," he ordered, taking a kiss.
Sam grinned. "He's a bit fussy."
"You seem to need it," Dean pointed out. "Fussy isn't always a bad thing. Just don't make out in front of us, Sammy."
"I won't. Or try not to anyway." He grinned at his father. "You want to ask, go ahead."
"How powerful are you?"
"I'm an elemental mage focusing on fire and water. The demon taint the thing gave me wiggled my powers to give me the second focus area." John nodded once at that. "Do we have it dead?"
"Damn." He considered for a moment. "Well, the taint's fully off me. He tried to call me a few years ago so they had to remove it fully." He looked back at his mate then at his father. "We're not sure why it missed Alex. By everything it seems to want, he'd be better. He's even more stubborn than I am." Dean snickered. "Yes, us having a fight usually takes *weeks*," he agreed dryly. "Last time Aunt Florian locked us in a room and sent in food every few hours until we finally had to talk to each other and work it out."
"It's good he drives you nuts like your mother did to me," John said quietly. "What happens if he comes for you this time?"
Alex grinned. "I've already got demon traps set around the place, John." He went back to his washing plates. "Don't worry, it won't be getting out of here if it shows up."
"Are you sure? It's taken out some others that it had marked," Dean told him.
Alex stared at him. "Dean, there's a reason why demons are scared as crap of me. I was born on a hellmouth. Born, bred, third generation there. We're about eighty miles from one. I'm powerful enough to call on it if I need to." Dean and John both blanched. "I'm not the one it wants to screw with. As the demons that attacked us to get Sam back proved. Sam is mine and anything that touches him will have a long time of me having fun with its soul." He went back to cleaning. "Beyond that, wild magic gives those of us who use it a reputation as one not to screw with. There's no telling what I'll pull out next time. The demon would be suicidal to come here."
Sam nodded. "The ones who came after us to get me for Azazel were."
"You know its name?" Dean demanded. "We knew everything but its name before."
Sam got up to get the book the elder mages had given him, bringing it back. "It likes to try to take out humanity every few decades or so." He handed it to his father with a grin. "If it shows itself to me, I can blast it back to hell and probably do a lot of damage at the same time. If it shows up to Alex, he could conceivably kill it if not the hell it tried to hide in. We're not the targets it'd want to take on so bluntly."
"That's why it sent a hit squad after us, to kill me," Alex agreed. "Fortunately someone had the Sight and foresaw that I needed to be hell with a weapon."
"I think that was more to give you something to wear out that energy with," Sam pointed out dryly.
Alex looked at him. "Not really." He smirked at him. "I can easily make you beg before I go to class tomorrow, dear."
"No thanks. I hate begging."
"Pity. I like it."
Sam smirked. "You're being a bit evil today?"
"Well....yeah," he admitted with a wicked grin. "Also, you should know that I do have protections up so my former best friend who is now a chaos mage can't touch us."
Dean stared at him. "He is?" Alex nodded. "Why?"
"He had to so he could help the hunting out there. He's not a dangerous one but every now and then the magic uses him instead of him using it. It doesn't help that he likes to drink either. I gave him the books they trained us with. That could help him a lot if he used them. I felt him welcoming us back to this plane earlier, dear."
"I felt it too. He okay?"
"He's fine but he was a bit drunk. I patted the magical tether and sent it back to its master so he could sleep it off." He grinned. Sam smirked back. "What? Not like I changed his hair for him again," he said innocently.
"What did you do?" he asked patiently.
"Well, I could've kinda turned him into Bigfoot," he offered with a grin. Sam rolled his eyes, shaking his head as he begged the elven deities to give him some sanity. "I think he'll like being a man-pelt."
"Maybe. Jesse was a bit odd." He looked at his father, who was giving him a horrified look. "He and Jesse used to prank together."
"Won't he mind that?" Dean asked.
"Probably not. He'll giggle in the morning to make his hangover worse. He did when Alex gave him Rapunzel hair." He sat down, looking at his father. "Should we look for things at the mystical yard sale coming up for you guys too?"
"Please. I know the elves have you looking for things that shouldn't be in human hands but if you find some research books on demons let me know?"
"I can do that." He smiled at Dean then at his father. "You two should crash for the night."
"Let me get a room for us," John said. "That way you two can christen the house." Sam leered. "C'mon, Dean." He took the book with him.
Sam looked back at Alex. "We set up things to trap him?"
Alex exposed all the marks for Sam to look over. "All the walls, the ceiling, and the floor," he promised. "It left one small opening on a closet door so if it comes it has to come that way."
Sam nodded, looking it over. "That way when it does come we can trap the sucker and hand him to Dad. He deserves it for all the hell it put him through."
Alex came out to hug him. "We can defeat it," he whispered in his ear. Sam gave him a grateful look. "I know it's hard, baby, but we'll manage it, like when we had to help defeat the last bad thing."
Sam nodded. "We can," he agreed. He gave Alex a hug. "Bed?" Alex muted the symbols again, taking his mate to bed. "You were the best trouble I ever found," he vowed as he laid down.
Alex beamed. "I think you are too, Sam." Sam moaned. Alex laid down next to him to cuddle for now. He knew that Sam's emotions were in a turmoil because of his family. When Sam finally calmed down he grinned. "Reward?" he asked teasingly.
Sam groaned but got up to strip them both and then play with his mate. He needed it again.
Alex looked up as someone walked up to where he was sitting in the sun. "Hey, Dean. What's up?"
"Need to talk to you for a minute," he said, sitting across from him. Alex put his textbook aside to look at him. "You do know that if you hurt Sammy, Dad and I are going to make your last few hours torture?" he asked, looking serious. Alex burst out in giggles. "Scary mage sort or not, Alex," he said firmly.
Alex leaned over to give him a hug. "I like you." He pulled back to grin at him. "I couldn't hurt him even if I tried," he pointed out. "He's part of my soul now, Dean," he said more gently at the scowl. "I'd have to hurt myself if I even thought about it. You don't have to worry about him around me. Some of the girls that tried to hit on him earlier maybe, but not him."
"He did grow up a bit more sheltered down there. I doubt he knew what was going on," Dean said dryly.
"They weren't anything but blunt, Dean. He knew." He smirked. "And I laid a good liplock on him so they left him alone, which made him blush but grin at me." He smirked. "It's not the first time and that action tends to ease things very quickly."
"You need to watch that shit," Dean warned. "Not everyone's that liberal."
Alex smirked. "I can handle gay bashers too," he pointed out gently. "Even without anything special. They trained me to fight for *years* because I'm a bit bouncy."
"More than a bit," Dean said sarcastically.
"It's all the extra energy up here," he complained lightly. "It's like it's trying to use me as a straw so it can go home."
"Whatever. I don't understand that stuff," he said at Alex's hurt look. "The only time I handle that stuff is when someone bad is using it."
Alex nodded. "We've met a few of those." He looked up, seeing someone storming their way. "Hmm, possessed person alert." Dean looked, growling at them. "Good morning. How are you and your passenger?" he asked the man. Being polite did irritate them so much.
"Why are you on my campus, boy?"
Alex leaned forward to make a small flower grow, then smirked at him. "I'm here to get a quality education, sir. Who are you to ask?"
"Let's not create a scene out here," Dean begged. "It's in the open," he said when Alex looked at him.
Alex nodded. "So it is. Which is why it'd be stupid of him to start anything with me." He looked at the possessed man again, seeing the horrified look. He smiled sweetly. "Yes, I was taught to think strategically by the pointy-eared ones. It came with my fight training."
The demon backed up some. "You shouldn't be here. You should be down-state."
"Yeah, well, they said I didn't have to." He smirked. "Anything else you wanted to know before my mate gets here?" The demon turned and fled. "So he either realized who I am or who I was before I got taken," he said quietly, looking at Dean. He plucked the flower to hand to him. "So you can use it to pick up something other than a cheerleader with herpes, Dean." He gathered his things and got up. "I'm going to get lunch with Archin. Coming? That way you can meet some nice meat market girls who'll only be interested in you for your dick and your car?"
"You're *way* blunter than I am," Dean said, getting up.
"Well, yeah, but he likes me like this," he said with a wicked smirk. "He does like to blush, never let him tell you otherwise. Or else he wouldn't do it nearly as often as he does." They walked off to the humanities building, gathering Archin up and taking him to the nearest caf. It was free for them since they had paid for the meal plan anyway, it was still mandatory, and Dean could get a decent lunch cheaply. Alex smiled at Sam when he came out scowling. "Bad day already?" he asked teasingly.
"No, just a teacher who's a bit fussier than any of ours. With the way she was talking to her stuffed pet on the desk, I'm not so sure she didn't need the help she was trying to teach us about. Hey, Dean."
Sam beamed. "Thank you." He took Alex's hand and walked off with them. "What's up?"
"Lunch. Then we'll see if that possessed person comes back to bother us some more," Alex offered with a grin. "Dean told me he'd torture me if I ever hurt you."
"Dean!" Sam complained.
"You know we will."
"Yeah," he admitted. He shrugged at his mate. "Sorry. I'm sure he didn't know how tight we are."
"I explained it." He took a kiss with a grin for the woman who was glaring at them. "Yes, we get higher education degrees and do fantastic things for the world, dear. Welcome to California, the gayest state in the union." She huffed off. "Sorry," he said with a sheepish grin when Sam stared him down.
"Be nicer. It's not her fault her mother didn't raise her to be open-minded." He grinned at Dean. "He likes to bait them."
"I can see that. He was baiting the possessed person earlier too."
"Of course he was," he agreed dryly, shooting his mate a dirty look. "Let's not find trouble our first week here? Please, baby?"
"If I can," he sighed. "You know I don't try to find it, it comes for us."
"I know. If I could, I'd have sunk the thing that makes them come for you," he promised dryly. He smirked at Dean. "They told me it wasn't possible and might make it open again."
"What?" he asked.
"The thing that we were all fighting near last year."
"Oh, that thing. Yeah, asked Dad about that. Which made him go for a beer before he even started to talk about it. It was nearly as bad as when he had to tell me about girls."
"You can tell someone about girls so they understand them?" Sam asked. "We needed that from Dontel. That way we could've made Stewie calm down a few times."
"More what to do with girls, how to treat them, that stuff," Dean told him. "No man understands girls, guys."
"Shoot," Xander muttered. "We have to stop in and see her anyway," he reminded his mate with a grin. "She's about ready to have her first child. Just a few months after the wedding."
"We can call and see if we can see her and the baby. Her husband might mind when we pout at her."
"I doubt it. I saw her last year and he didn't then. He growled a little bit until she told him who I was."
"Huh. Where was I?"
"Dealing with the parts thingy."
"Oh, that." He nodded. "Why was she there?"
"The same reason we were."
He shook his head with a small moan. "She's not a fighter."
"Sometimes everyone has to be one to protect what's theirs," Dean pointed out.
"Good point." Sam grinned and walked a step ahead to get the cafeteria's door open. "There we go." They walked inside. He and Alex ran their student ID's. Dean paid the five bucks. They went to get what they wanted.
Dean watched Alex stare at the pizza before moving on. "You can eat that."
"He'll pout at me for not eating vegetables."
"Then get the one with vegetables on it."
"He'll still pout," Alex assured him. He got a nice salad and went back for two slices. He'd still get pouted at but it was a salad so he could point that out.
Sam saw the cheese burger, two slices of pizza, and the small salad, giving him a sigh. "You should eat better."
"Sam, unless you want me to grab that book they burned and turn you into a girl for our future breeding pleasure, quit nagging," he said dryly.
Sam sulked at that. "I'm trying to take care of you."
"You do a great job," he promised, stealing a kiss with a grin. "See, plenty of vegetables. Not even any sweets."
Dean sat down, handing them both slices of cake. "You both need more sweets. You keep sucking it out of each other."
"That means we exchange it back and forth," Sam said.
"Yeah, but you keep a bit each time so you need to recharge your stores. Before I introduce Alex to the wonders of the candy aisle at the store or the bulk place."
Sam shuddered. "We'd never get to sleep, Dean. Don't do that to my poor back." Alex cackled. "Really. You wouldn't, dear."
"I would so. Eventually. After I teased and wore you out." He stuffed his mouth with the cheeseburger, humming and nodding. "A bit too crisp but not bad." He ate another bite.
Sam shook his head, giving Dean his powerful pouting and begging eyes. Dean moaned. "I forgot you could pull those out at the drop of the word 'ice cream'," he complained. "Don't pout at me or I'll do it as I leave."
"Fine. I'll quit nagging so much."
"Love you anyway," Xander said with a teasing smile, taking another kiss. "Now, be a good boy and eat so you have the energy to help me do laundry later. For some reason all our clothes smell like imps and lavender."
"Why imps?" he asked.
"Found two in the closet earlier."
"Are they gone?" Sam asked.
"Yup. I let Aunt Florian have a good fit." He gave him a wicked smirk. "She needs something to do now."
"Imps won't give her anything to do, Alex," he pointed out dryly.
"Yes it will. It'll let her complain, fuss over things after they move them, hunt something down, all that good stuff." He stuffed his mouth again.
Dean shook his head. "You two are insane."
"He did it to me," Sam and Alex said in unison, pointing at the other.
"Clearly," Dean agreed. They laughed and went back to eating. "Anything this afternoon?"
"Physics at one," Sam told him.
Alex shuddered. "Science, ick." Sam gave him a dirty look. "I'll lose my innocent's power of belief?" he suggested dryly.
"Uh-huh. You have to take at least one, Alex."
"Fine. I'll do that later on. Maybe a geology or something. That shouldn't screw things up too much." He snuck a bite of his cake before eating his salad. Sam only let out a quiet sigh. "We're big boys now. Aunt Florian won't be showing up to paddle us for eating cookies instead of dinner."
"She did?" Dean asked.
"Once or twice," Sam said dryly. "Purely his fault."
Dean looked at him. "You didn't learn after the first one?"
"Well, yeah, but we deserved them after the day we'd had. She figured that out the second time."
Sam nodded. "We did. It was a bad day. All our classes had tests, which we didn't realize. Dontel had the flu. All sorts of nastiness when Blueberry puked up a rabbit he had caught while out hunting. It was a very bad day that time." Alex nodded. "So we had cookies for dinner no matter what she wanted."
"I can see why," he decided. He finished up and went to get some more things, coming back with an extra thing for Alex. "Eggs, cheese, bacon, and asparagus. Mostly healthy but cool."
Alex nibbled and nodded, eating it all. "What is that?"
Sam grimaced. "Doesn't that usually have spinach?"
"Depends on how you make it." Dean smirked. "You don't like spinach? You seem to like all vegetables."
"Not cooked spinach. Or carrots. I don't really like any sort of carrots." He shrugged. "I'm allowed to not like some vegetables but if I didn't nag he'd never eat healthy stuff then we'd die sooner of his bad cholesterol."
Alex rolled his eyes. "I'm perfectly healthy."
"If you say so," Sam shot back. "I saw that rash starting."
"Uh-huh." He stuffed his mouth again.
"We'd die?" Dean asked calmly. Sam gave him a clueless look. "You said you'd both die?"
"Well, kinda," Sam admitted. "That's almost how they figured out we were mated. Kind of."
"He got a really bad injury," Alex said dryly. "Which showed up on me too."
Dean nodded at that. "So then it can't be broken?"
"Nope," Sam said with a grin. "Not that I'd want it to be." He winked at his mate then grinned at his big brother. "It's cool, Dean. It happened without us realizing. We like it."
"Fine. Why are you two so gooey in public?"
"So we can't slip our real names," Alex said quietly.
"Ah! That makes more sense," he said, getting it with a grin. The same as he had to remind himself not to call him Sammy. "I'll make dad ease off on that topic later."
"Thanks," Sam said, stuffing his mouth again. He checked his watch then took a kiss from Alex and hugged his brother before heading off to physics. "Make dinner, Alex."
"Yes, dear." He waved then grinned at Dean. "He's the hyper one."
"Yeah, right," he said dryly. "I've seen you bounce."
"Good point." He finished up and got another piece of pizza and another slice of cake, plus some ice cream, bringing it back. Dean smirked at him. "I can splurge today. It's my first day of college."
"Uh-huh. I had to sneak around to keep my own candy when we were younger too."
"Did he nag you too?"
"No, he pouted his way into it with those stupid puppy eyes of his," he said dryly.
"Yeah, he does that to me too now and then." His phone rang with a text message, making him sigh and hand Dean the ice cream. "Plus he's got an Alex-getting-into-mischief sense too."
Dean dug into the ice cream, then went to get them both another dessert. Alex needed pie and he needed to get to know his baby brother's husband, or whatever, better. Those talks always went better over pie. He even added ice cream. Alex beamed. If Alex got bouncy later, well it was payback for stealing all his candy when they were kids.
Dean met John in the parking lot, watching as Alex babbled and bounced around his boyfriend, smirking at each other. "He gets a bit hyper on sugar. We talked over pie, ice cream, and cake."
"Sammy nagged him into vegetables." Sam was sighing in displeasure but Alex mugged him and made him happier. They got into their car to head home. "Think we should go interrupt so Sammy has to wait?"
"That's mean, son. I'd hate it if you did it to me and your mother."
"Sure, then let's go hunt down the Doctor of Philosophy who's possessed."
John smirked at him. "How do we know this?"
"Came up to demand why they were on his campus before lunch."
"That's good to know. Which way to his office?" Dean pulled out the faculty guide and let him see it. "We know him how?"
"Looked on the website to find out who he was."
"Even better." They walked that way together, looking casually like Dean was taking classes and he was his father, talking about things quietly on the way.
"Dad, we need to ease up on Alex. They're *mated*."
"They said that, Dean-o."
"No, like Sammy got injured and it showed up on Alex mates, Dad."
John glanced at him. "How did we find this out?"
"Sammy said that's how they found out they were bound. Also, they're so gooey so they don't give out names."
"I can understand that. I know I've slipped a few times."
"So have I." He shrugged. "I'm sure they'll be safe."
"Hopefully. They're a little bit feared from the contacts I talked to earlier. Alex is very bouncy in a battle but he'll attack first and kill them before presenting them to Sam if they were threatening him. He did recently."
"Hmm." Dean nodded once. "He said he likes to make him blush too. That he must enjoy it with as much as he does it."
"He might. Boys in love are odd things. I know I was when your mother and I got together." He walked into the building, letting Dean catch the door. "Which floor?"
"Third." They took the elevator up, smiling and nodding at a few teachers who were walking around up there. Classes started and their target wasn't in so they went in to kindly lay down a devil's trap to capture him. When he came back from his last class, they were waiting behind his door. He shut it, turned and realized he couldn't move. "Good morning," Dean said dryly. "How was your day?"
"You won't stop us. He'll get him back."
"Which one?" John asked. "They removed all of my son's taint."
"Well, I think you'd have to take that up with Archin," Dean told him. He splashed him with holy water. Suddenly the room felt dampened and they looked at the corner as Dontel walked out of it. "That's a nice trick."
"Thank you. I learned it to sneak up on the boys. I did a silencing." They got to work on the exorcism no matter how much the man wanted to keep the demon. He banished it back to hell once it was out of the human and it was nicer. "The old powers at the hellmouth still like my boys. They do want them back and I'm not sure what we can do about it beyond teach them protections and things."
"Alex said he had wards up," John offered.
"So heavily you can only get in through one spot," he agreed. "I checked. It was mean ta give him ice cream, Dean. He's very sensitive to sugar. Used to drive us nuts."
Dean smirked. "Sam needs to celebrate his first day of classes."
"Uh-huh. Your brother's back is already out from it. Alex is fixing it for him by making him yell very loudly. Nearly scared Aunt Florian." He stared at them. "Whose bright idea was the imps?"
"Alex said she needed a reason to complain, get her blood pumping, and all that stuff," Dean offered with a grin.
"Good then she can go break up this session by spanking him." He disappeared.
John and Dean sat down the sobbing professor to see if he remembered anything the demon had said about their boys. Since it looked like the Winchester clan had grown by one bouncy, wild magic mage.
Alex looked up from his reading when someone knocked on the door, getting up to let John in. "He's sleeping," he said quietly.
"I wanted to talk to you anyway." He locked the door behind him.
"Are you going to try to threaten me like Dean did?"
"You already know what I'll do to you if you hurt my boy, Alex. I don't have to state it. My reputation with all those Unseelie proceeds me." Alex nodded that was true. "I wanted to know more about this mated thing you two have going. I couldn't find anything on it."
"It's fairly rare to happen to mages." He sat on the couch, curling up with one knee upraised for him to hold. "It's something no one was expecting either. They say you have to be evenly balanced between you two and basically share a soul-deep connection. Sometimes working with someone will create a temporary link but nothing this deep."
"Then how did you two do it?" John sat down to look at the boy.
Alex shrugged. "No one knows. We weren't aware of it until Sam got hurt in his first battle. Since I got the cut too, and I had been studying wild magic linking people together I understood it. We got him healed from that and it took everyone else six months to find out. We didn't intentionally hide it, some thought we did because we were wary of them finding out but we didn't. They found out when Sam got hurt in that apocalypse battle and I yelped in pain even though nothing was near me. Dontel heard it and checked me over then glared over at Sam, who was holding a cut in the exact same spot. He started to swear. Which brought healers, who verified it when he told her it might be so."
He shrugged. "We have no idea when it started. It could've been the night we first got together. There was a good bit of magic released that night. That's how Stewie's mom found out about us being together and separated her daughter so she could have something of her own. She decided that her daughter deserved to have someone who loved just her instead of us splitting our attention with her and each other. It hurt," he admitted. "A lot. Still does."
"I can understand that. First loves often aches for years."
"I think she was closer than that but I can't be sure." He shrugged again. "Her mother threw an absolute fit on Sam for it. I pointed out I was there to so she'd yell at me instead of him. She just snorted and said Sam led me on too. Which he didn't. It was mutual fooling around for all three of us that went farther that night."
"Were you three good together?"
"Fairly so. She was odd now and then. She had some bad moods too that she seemed to give out on us. We liked her as a friend and then it moved on from there."
"It often does," John told him. "First loves especially. So you didn't do a ritual, a ceremony, nothing like that?"
"After they found out there was a ceremony in front of the High Court since it's so rare. All the other mages who can use wild magic go there because it's their job to keep Underhill steady and things." John nodded once at that. "The Queen and I are really a lot alike. She said she used to be a bit bouncy when she was younger too. Plus she liked to prank."
"I heard that in some of the myths," he promised with a slight smile. "So why are you two here now?"
"Sam wanted to go help people. He said it was important to him. The queen sniffled a bit but agreed and said she'd call if they needed our help. Then the apocalypse battle happened. It took us a few months to get better. Otherwise we'd have been here last year. Since we couldn't, they did the ceremony and helped us prepare to come up here. All the furniture was from Aunt Florian's house because she wanted to redecorate. She said she does it about every three centuries."
"I can understand why. I got tired of stuff in our house after only five years." He looked around then at the boy. "You are going to treat Sammy well? I know you're bound and that means you can't hurt him or it can hurt you, but you won't pick on him too much, that sort of thing?"
Alex snorted. "He nags me, not the other way around, John."
"I'm going to talk to my boy about that," he promised. "His mother started out doing the same thing." He let out a gentle smile. "He does it because he loves you but it can make you want to rebel and do stupid things that he'll yell about."
Alex nodded. "That's why he's taking a nap," he offered with a grin. "On his side because he threw out his back, kinda."
"I don't need those details unless one of you hurts the other, Alex."
"Good boy." He stood up. "Tell Sammy I'll see him tomorrow morning?" Alex pointed at the posted schedules, letting him memorize it. "I'll see him after his lab class." Alex nodded. "Good boy." He left, going to think and do some more research about bonds through Bobby's book collection. Bobby was groaning over the information he had gotten but it wasn't highly noted. It was almost considered mythical. But then again so were elves.
Alex looked toward the bedroom. "Want some ice water?"
"Sure, I can cuddle." He went to pounce his mate, making him groan over his sore back but he'd love him anyway. He was bouncy and Sam liked that about him. The rest of Sam's family could apparently appreciate that about him so it was good. They'd be fine for a long time and some day they'd go rescue a kid that needed it so Dontel and Aunt Florian couldn't nag about them having children.