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“So looks like Reid was right. That Anyanca’s got eyes for no one but our man Garwin alright.”
Caleb took another swig of his beer and nodded in response to Pogue’s observation. They were sitting at the bar in the famous Salem club aptly named Mystery, watched Reid sucking face with the teenaged witch from Salem in a corner booth and grinned. Tyler walked up to them a moment later.
“Okay, far as I can tell… these girls don’t have the first clue to what’s going on. I say they’re clean.”
“Yeah, well.” Caleb looked around himself. “I wouldn’t be so sure just yet.”
Pogue added, “I think Tyler’s right, Caleb. Spoke to a couple of these girls myself and sure they still don’t like us, but I think I’d know if they were lying to me.”
“Uh-uh.” Caleb looked at him sideways. “Saw you getting pretty cozy with that sophomore, Jasmine.”
Pogue grinned and hiked up one eyebrow. “Jealous?”
Caleb turned to look back into Pogue’s eyes and Pogue felt his heart give a little lurch. It was supposed to be an innocent jibe. He’d only meant that maybe Caleb was feeling jealous of Pogue for the attention he’d got from that really hot girl. But now, looking into Caleb’s dark stormy eyes, he wondered if maybe Pogue was not the one Caleb might be feeling a little envious of. And that maybe the answer to that question was an unspoken but resounding ‘hell yeah’.
Pogue’s grin watered away and he swallowed, hard, before putting his drink down on the counter. Cowardly as it might be, his first impulse was to run, far as he could from Caleb’s smoldering eyes and he obeyed it.
“I-I… uh, be right back.”
Pogue hurried away as quickly as he could towards the restroom that had a significant queue of patrons waiting right outside. That was perfectly fine with him, fact the longer the wait, away from Caleb, the better. Pogue was too pre-occupied with his muddled thoughts to notice the hot girl, Jasmine’s sharp gaze stalking him all the way across the room.
“Can I get you anything else?”
The bartender, Joey, asked Caleb as he cleared out the empty mugs from in front of him. Tyler took the seat just vacated by Pogue and responded eagerly with an “I’ll have a beer.”
Joey exchanged a thoroughly amused smirk with Caleb, snorted and stalked off, leaving Tyler shocked and glaring at Caleb in return. “What the-? How come you guys get to drink and I don’t?”
Caleb rolled his eyes, “Because you can’t handle it and I’m in no mood to watch your ass too, baby boy.”
Joey came back with a glass of soda and a slice of lemon hanging off the side of it, and placed it before Tyler. Caleb thanked his bartender friend and Tyler reacted with a death-defying glare. Which sadly went to waste, because Caleb was too busy craning to keep an eye on Pogue where he stood in line, waiting to get into the crowded restroom.
“Have you considered, maybe, taking Pogue to a shrink?”
Caleb turned towards him and frowned, so Tyler rushed to elaborate. “I mean, we never did find any proofs or residues of using inside his room. So what if it really is just in his head?”
The older boy sighed. “Yeah, I did consider that, Tyler. But you know him. He doesn’t like the suggestion and he’s only gonna get pissed and push us away if he thinks we don’t believe him. Let’s just check everything out that we can. And maybe, by process of elimination…”
“If we can prove it’s nothing supernatural, he’ll have no choice but,” Tyler finished the thought. He nodded subtly, seeing the logic in that approach. “But what if it’s too late? What if his condition, whatever it is, gets worse and… Caleb? You with me, man?”
No, Caleb wasn’t. The next time he’d turned to check up on Pogue, he saw something that sent his hackles rising sky-high and his heart dropping to the pit of his stomach. The girl called Jasmine had wheedled herself into the line just before Pogue and she now stood facing him, her arms casually draped around his neck. They were smiling, Pogue too, their faces pressed close to each other as Jasmine said something funny enough to make Pogue laugh.
Caleb snapped his face away, almost as if he’d been slapped. He was painfully aware that he was reacting way too strongly to something as innocuous as a girl flirting with Pogue. Just a girl, flirting with his (best friend) Pogue…
What the fuck was wrong with him?
“Woah, that girl’s fast.” Tyler smirked. He’d followed Caleb’s gaze towards the duo, and his words only served to rile Caleb up some more. He bit his lip and looked back at them again, struggled to get these strange, unidentifiable emotions of his under control.
Pogue was wearing his favorite black muscle tank top, the one with no sleeves and was slightly short on the midriff that generously showed his toned abs off. Jasmine put one hand on his left bicep, supposedly testing it for strength and size, and whispered something else in Pogue’s ear, this time making him throw his head back when he laughed. Then she brought her other hand around Pogue’s slim waist to his back, slowly, sensually, sliding it down towards the boy’s ass.
That was when Caleb looked away for good. He picked up his beer and downed it all in one go. If Tyler noticed his unusually weird behavior, he thankfully didn’t comment. The youngest Son of Ipswich calmly watched as Caleb stood up, placed some money on the counter and started to walk out of the club. Tyler wordlessly followed.
Pogue didn’t get it. He just couldn’t understand why.
Jasmine was smokin’ hot, like with a capital S and capital H. There’d be no complication of having to hide his true identity from her since she was a witch herself, and most importantly she was totally into him. Hell, she looked ready to go down on him right there in public, in front of a hundred people. And yet, here he was, after twenty whole minutes of far from subtle full-on flirting, and he still didn’t wanna do it. Not even a little bit.
Jasmine, as it turned out, wasn’t as dumb as she’d been pretending to be either. Smiling ever so sweetly, she rose up on the tips of her toes and hissed into Pogue’s left ear.
“I don’t mean to be rude or anything, Ipswich. But you can be honest with me, you know that right?”
No, I don’t. Pogue just nodded knowingly.
“You’re gay, aren’t you?”
Pogue froze, his face was still split into a wide grin that had turned to stone right there in its place like the rest of him. Jasmine drew back a little to look into his eyes. He could see disappointment and a mild form of disdain in hers, like she was mentally chiding herself (or maybe him) for having wasted twenty precious minutes of her life on him. Pogue finally found a voice, and it came out cold and defensive.
“Maybe you overestimate yourself, Salem. Ever think of that?”
Her eyes flashed an angry red at that and it nearly scared him, but Pogue held his ground and his shit-eating grin. Jasmine sighed but thankfully decided not to pursue it, threw him a steely-eyed glare in parting and walked away. Pogue let go of the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding and ran a hand through his overlong strands of hair. He still didn’t get it.
What if his lack of libido was a by-product of his nighttime demonic visitations?
Pogue bit his lip and swallowed his rage, then turned towards where he knew Caleb was… or should have been… sitting, not so long ago.
There was no one he knew at the bar anymore. Pogue frowned and looked around the club. He found Reid still making out with his girl in the same booth as before, but Caleb and Tyler were nowhere to be found.
Pogue grimaced, he really really wished he didn’t have to do this. But he’d looked and he couldn’t find the rest of the group anywhere. “Garwin! Come on, man.”
Reid at last surfaced from his passionate lip-lock, taking one hand out from under the girl’s blouse and wiping his lips as he turned to face his friend interrupting him. “What’s up, Parry?”
Anyanca, the witch spread out beneath him threw her head back into the leather couch to catch her breath, giving Pogue a clear view of her plump cleavage. Pogue winced and kept his gaze turned away. “You know where Caleb is?”
“He was at the bar with Tyler…”
“I can’t find them now, and Caleb’s car is gone too.”
“Then they must have left.”
Pogue started. Left? Without him?
Reid smirked. “Dude c’mon. It’s not the first time some of us have hooked up for the night and the others have gone back to the dorm. I saw you and Jasmine over there, surely they thought – “
“Well they thought wrong. She… I… we weren’t…” Pogue sighed, at a loss for words to complete that sentence. He couldn’t think of a good explanation (or even a bad one) for why he’d turned such a perfectly gorgeous and willing piece of tail down. And honestly he couldn’t even care less right now. All he felt right now was an unreasonable sense of… abandonment.
“Give me your keys.”
Reid raised an eyebrow, “And how am I supposed to get back?”
Pogue wanted to box the little brat’s face in so bad. This is why he should never go anywhere without his trusty bike. His bike he could always trust, even when his supposedly best friends slash brothers kept letting him down.
“Why don’t you just teleport, Parry?” The witch from Salem was mocking him, and of course she would.
Lucky bitches didn’t have to worry about excessive using since apparently the female body was stronger and more resilient against the Power wearing it down. Plus they were also mentally stronger, as had been proven for hundreds of years, not one Salem witch had succumbed to addiction so far. Unlike the Ipswich men who kept dropping like frikkin’ flies, which was why Caleb had limited everyone’s use to ‘for emergencies only’. Caleb – whose decree Reid ignored, Tyler only grudgingly accepted, but Pogue obeyed always no matter what and was obeying even now, when Caleb had so obviously forsaken him.
“Garwin, don’t fuck with me right now, alright?”
After a couple minutes more of dilly-dallying, Reid finally gave in and flung the keys to his SUV at Pogue. It was unlikely the blond would return to the Academy tonight himself anyway.
Fifteen minutes after they left the club, Caleb hit the interstate back to Ipswich and immediately sped up to a one-twenty. Tyler gulped hard and finally decided to speak his mind.
“Caleb? Why did she bother you so much?”
The response was curt and intended to shut Tyler up, except Tyler still had something to get off his chest. “So, I guess you believe him now?”
Tyler shifted in his seat. “About Jasmine, of course.”
Caleb was losing his threadbare-thin patience. “Complete your damn sentences, will you?”
“Hey don’t yell at me! You’re the one who said we couldn’t be sure just yet and still you…”
“Tyler! What the fuck are you on about?”
That’s when Tyler realized that Caleb had completely forgotten about it. He was so engrossed in feeling… something Tyler didn’t want to put a name to just yet… that Caleb totally forgot about why they were in Salem in the first place.
“We left Pogue alone in there, Caleb, alone with Jasmine. Are you sure there isn’t even the remotest possibility that she might be the one?”
Caleb slammed on the brakes until the screech echoed through the deserted highway. The look on his blanched face made Tyler want to laugh almost as much as he felt alarmed.
“Shit.” Was all Caleb offered, before he made an illegal u-turn and gunned it all the way back to Salem.
In their hurry to get back to Pogue and the darkness of the foggy moon-less night, they swerved into an exit and completely missed the black Tundra turning out of the other exit and onto the interstate, heading towards Ipswich.
Pogue didn’t go up to his room even to change. Instead he parked the van and went straight to the swimming pool. He found a spare pair of speedos in his locker and hit the water soon as he could humanly make it. And that’s where a half hour later, Caleb found him.
“Pogue…Can we talk? Please?”
Pogue kept ignoring the older boy and turning back for longer laps to get as far away from Caleb as possible. He couldn’t explain his own behavior – sure they may have grown up together and they may be almost like brothers but that didn’t mean they had to be stuck at the hip to each other all the time.
“Parry, get out of the damn water now.”
Pogue huffed and stopped by the side of the pool, yanking his goggles off to glare at Caleb. But he still wouldn’t leave the pool. “What is your problem, Danvers?”
Realizing Pogue was not going to listen to him, Caleb came closer instead and crouched down before the other boy. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, not really meeting Pogue’s eyes.
“You know what.”
“No, I really don’t, Danvers. What’s the deal?”
Caleb looked straight into his eyes this time, as if trying to figure if Pogue really meant it or not. “Well, I thought… you know… I left.”
“Why should I be mad that you left? It’s not like we were doing this for the first time.”
Caleb rolled his eyes. “Will you just come out of the damn water please?”
Pogue didn’t want to. For some reason, he felt safest when he was swimming, he felt in control. And besides, coming out would mean he’d be semi-naked in front of a fully dressed Caleb again and damn it that was turning into a regular occurrence and he wasn’t exactly thrilled about it.
“I still got ten laps to go.”
Caleb frowned, losing patience. “No you don’t. Stop being such a girl about this, Parry.”
What the…? “Oh so I’m being a girl now!”
“Hell yeah! What do you want me to do next? Get down on my knees and grovel?”
Pogue was scowling so hard his face hurt. He didn’t care for Caleb’s attitude, especially since he was the one who left Pogue behind and… God damn it, Parry, you are being a girl. Just get over it already!
Pogue got out of the water in a huff, mostly to get away from Caleb than anything else. He reached for the white fluffy towel lying nearby and wiped himself off before wrapping it around his waist. He didn’t miss the way Caleb’s eyes followed every single movement and it sent chills down his spine that had nothing to do with the ambient temperature.
“I turned around almost immediately, but by the time we got back, you had left.”
Pogue didn’t want to know. Part of him wanted to stay mad, another part saw no reason why he should be mad, and the biggest part of him was in complete denial about being mad at all. He started to walk back to the locker room and to his mild chagrin, Caleb followed.
“I, I don’t know what got into me, when I saw you with Jasmine…”
Pogue started, but carefully kept his face turned away from the older boy as he opened his locker to get his clothes out.
Pogue swallowed, and looked down at the pair of dirty socks in his hands. “I didn’t know you liked her so much,” he mumbled, knowing very well how Caleb was going to react to that.
Actually, no wait, scratch that. Pogue had no idea Caleb was going to react the way that he did. None whatsoever.
What followed were the longest few seconds of his life, as Pogue and Caleb stood in deathly silence – the older boy standing directly behind him, eyes glued to Pogue’s naked and dripping form while Pogue just kept his head lowered, his shoulders tense with anticipation. And then Caleb took three steps forward until he was right behind Pogue, putting a hesitant hand on the younger boy’s shoulder.
Pogue shuddered under the touch, but stayed still as he could, his hands clenching into tight fists around the cotton of his socks. Before he knew it, he was being slowly turned about, until he was facing Caleb, his body merely centimeters away from Caleb’s, so much so that he could actually feel the body heat emanating through the other boy’s black sweater and leather jacket. Caleb’s hands now rested on both his bony shoulders, and then he stepped even closer so he could softly whisper into Pogue’s hair.
“Stop playing dumb, Parry. It so isn’t you.”
Caleb put a finger under Pogue’s chin and forcibly lifted his face until they were looking into each other’s eyes. He licked his lips and Pogue shivered, the whirlwind of emotions inside of him growing with very passing second. It never ceased to amaze him how perfectly chiseled Caleb’s features were, and from this distance, he looked absolutely magnificent. Pogue felt his knees start to weaken and wobble, but he couldn’t understand why. And then Caleb leaned in to kiss him.
Pogue’s instinctive reaction was to drop his eyelids shut, and allow Caleb to gently lift his face further up and within easy reach of his lips. Then a second’s pause… and that was all it took to crush that treacherous instinct and let better reason prevail.
That’s when Pogue sprang back and to his senses.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Caleb seemed genuinely shocked by Pogue’s reaction, but he quickly recovered, bit his lip and stepped back. “I… I’m sorry, I thought…”
“You thought what, man? It’s not enough someone is assaulting me in my sleep, now you’re trying to doing it to me while I’m awake too?”
The words were out before he could even think to censure himself, and then it was too late. Pogue watched helplessly as Caleb’s face fell, hurt and dismayed and this time he made absolutely no effort to cover it up.
“I didn’t… Pogue, I thought you were…”
“I was what? Suddenly gay?”
“No, I…” For the first time in ever, Pogue watched Danvers struggle with words. But the struggle didn’t last too long because the older boy capitulated well before it even began.
“I’m so sorry, I… I’m gonna go.”
And that was it. Pogue was left standing alone and still shivering, listening to the loudly echoing footsteps of his best friend hurrying away.
He didn’t sleep that night. Again.
Partly because he was scared the incubus would return, (and it’s not like he could go to Caleb anymore – not after what just happened – and whose fault was that again?) but mostly because try as he might, he couldn’t stop thinking back to the incident in the locker room. He tossed and he turned in his narrow bunk bed, hot and hassled and uncomfortable and with a deep frown permanently etched into his forehead.
For one, since when was Caleb gay? Sure he remembered that one time back when Caleb was fourteen – he had confessed to Pogue about kissing Gabriel Priestley after cello class. He remembered how his immediate reaction was to giggle and make lewd, offensive hand gestures (What? He was thirteen.) and Caleb had punched him in the nose, only to hug him two minutes later because Pogue hadn’t run away disgusted or called him a fag like he’d imagined. (Course then Pogue couldn’t resist and had told an emotional Caleb to get his fairy-ass hands off of him, for which Caleb socked him a big one again.) But that was ages ago, Gabriel moved to Hawaii three months later while Caleb rediscovered girls and free weights and never spoke about it ever again. Nor had he so much as looked at another guy ever since.
Except at you…
Pogue grimaced, and curled up around a spare pillow. Yeah, ever since Caleb had, um, done… done what he did after his first encounter with the incubus, his behavior had been so totally weird towards Pogue. Almost as if seeing (and feeling up) Pogue’s naked butt had… um… reawakened the gayness in him? Fucking Merlin… Pogue tossed over to his other side again.
He could still feel Caleb’s eyes, intense and captivating as they could be, on his body the way he’d never felt them or anyone else’s eyes before. And what was worse, here in the dark and alone to himself, he couldn’t deny the fact that he’d felt a warm tingling sensation coursing through his mind and body every time Caleb looked at him like that.
And it wasn’t an entirely unwelcome sensation either.
Pogue wanted to cry, he felt so confused, so helpless… like he couldn’t control anything that’d been happening to him these past few days, not even his own body’s reactions. Not to Caleb; and not to that thing that so sadistically enjoyed abusing his body, then left him alive to suffer through the torturous aftermath.
He was tired, God he was so exhausted and still he couldn’t rest. Pogue had never really given sleeping a second thought before. Heck it was supposed to be one of those things you just did, like breathing. How he wished he could go to sleep right now, and for ever if possible, just so he wouldn’t have to fucking think anymore.
How he wished he could burrow into Caleb’s side once more without having to worry about the freaking implications. How he wished he could pretend what happened that night, hadn’t happened at all.
“Three classes down, three more to go.”
Reid sighed and slammed his books closed. Around him the class started to disperse for lunch, except his friend Tyler who sat staring vacantly into his notes, holding a pencil between his teeth.
“Hey, space monkey. What’s up?”
Tyler scowled up at him before looking serious. “I wonder if we could convince Pogue to go stay at his house for the weekend.”
Reid scoffed lightly. “You know he doesn’t like to be anywhere around that estate when his dad’s in town.”
“That’s precisely why he should. Maybe, if Daddy Parry is around, you know, with all his Power, maybe his presence alone could keep Pogue safe?”
The boys looked at each other for a second, before shaking their heads in sync.
“Never gonna happen,” Reid drawled. “The two can’t even stand each other.”
“Couldn’t you at least try?” Tyler implored.
“Hey, why me? Ask Caleb to do the dirty talking, you know Pogue only listens to the mighty Danvers and nobody else.”
Tyler bit his lip, “Yeah, about that… I suppose you don’t know what happened last night.”
Reid frowned. “Pogue’s okay, isn’t he?”
“Oh yeah, no attacks last night, thank God. He refused to stay with me though, and Caleb… well, he went home.”
Reid sat up straight, that didn’t sound right. “Caleb went home?”
Tyler nodded jerkily, looking caught and sort of conflicted. Reid looked around himself, it’s not like he really needed to scan the room to know that the two oldest brothers of the witch pack had been missing all morning. “Where are they anyway?”
Tyler shrugged, “My guess would be that they’re both cutting class in order to avoid running into each other.”
A prolonged pause followed.
“Simms? What are you not telling me?”
“Promise you won’t tell Caleb?”
Reid smirked, amused by how shit-scared Tyler was of going against Danvers in any way. “And what exactly are we hiding from Caleb again?”
Tyler looked really guilty now. “Only that… I might have, completely by mistake I swear, kinda… eavesdropped on him and Pogue at the pool last night?”
Reid’s eyebrows went up and joined his hairline.
The incessant knocking simply wouldn’t go away. No matter how deep Pogue muzzled into the bed or how hard he smothered himself with a pillow.
“Open up, Parry. You know the frikkin’ door’s just a formality!”
Aargh. Reid could be such a pain in the ass when he wanted to. Pogue got out of bed in a huff and threw his pillow to the floor. It’s not like he’d been sleeping and he had the few hundred used cups of Starbucks strewn all over his room to prove it. But he sure as hell didn’t want to risk leaving the safety of his room and run into a certain someone called Caleb Danvers out there.
“What do you want Garwin?” He yelled soon as he opened the door.
Reid, who was clearly braced for the onslaught, stood unfazed with his hands in his pockets as usual and a smirk on his face. “It’s Nicky’s tonight, bro. C’mon get your ass ready in five.”
Pogue sagged against his door. “I can’t. You guys go ahead.”
“Oh c’mon Parry, a little fresh air and fermented beverage can only do you some good.”
Pogue rolled his eyes. “Nicky doesn’t serve beer, Garwin.”
Reid grinned, “And?”
Pogue snorted, of course. He ran a hand through his greasy hair to push it back.
“Listen, I really…”
“Please man,” Reid’s voice contained a plea of sorts, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the older boy. “Tyler’s being a geek with his physics club meeting and Caleb’s on a date, so I’m really in need of a wingman tonight.”
Pogue froze, just for a second, then his automated reflexes kicked in. “Oh. Okay, I’ll… give me five minutes.”
He let Reid in but continued to stand by the door, white-knuckling the knob without realizing it.
“Parry? You okay man?”
Pogue shook himself out of his reverie, “Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely, did you say Caleb’s on a date?”
Reid shrugged. “With Angela.”
The next few minutes were a blur. Pogue couldn’t remember how he got dressed, out of the building and into Reid’s car. His brow started to hurt after awhile from the constant frowning and that was when he came to and actually noticed his whereabouts. They were just pulling into the parking lot at Nicky’s. Pogue figured Reid must have been totally quiet all the way since he didn’t remember having any conversation in the last half hour or so. Surely he would have noticed if someone had been talking to him, right?
“Come on in, brother.”
There was an uncanny softness in Reid’s voice as he stood holding the backdoor open to let Pogue into the club before himself. Pogue wanted to scoff at the oh-so-gentlemanly gesture, and from Garwin no less, but he simply couldn’t garner enough strength or even the will to protest to anything right then.
Caleb was on a date. With Angela.
And that should bother him so much, why?
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