Authors: CB Conwy
Tags: #Gay Fantasy
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
An imprint of Torquere Press Publishers
PO Box 2545
Round Rock, TX 78680
Copyright 2011 by CB Conwy
Cover illustration by Alessia Brio
Published with permission
All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law. For information address Torquere Press. Inc., PO Box 2545, Round Rock, TX 78680.
First Torquere Press Printing: October 2011
Printed in the USA
They were in the car, approaching the city. Matt was looking around, wide-eyed, as the first suburbs started emerging around them. He felt like he had been away for years and not just a few months; everything seemed bright and foreign and just very strange.
It had been surprisingly hard to leave the house in the forest. Hard enough that he had a lump in his throat when they went out the door for the very last time that morning.
He had stopped outside the door, taking in the garden. It brought back memories of lazy summer days in the sun with Pietr. There had been the incident, too, when Matt had overexerted himself. Pietr had tended to him in that garden, sitting with him and holding him while he had been completely empty of energy. He still remembered the sun on his back and the quiet rustling of the wind in the trees.
Then there was the forest where he had learned so much about his powers. Not all of it had been easy. Sam and Jerry had worked his ass off teaching him how to use all aspects of his abilities -- not only those that Pietr and Aki knew. It had been incredibly hard work, but he had made it and even gotten to like Sam and Jerry in the end.
He had given the cabin itself one last glance before he turned to leave. It was the place where he had enjoyed simple, everyday life with Pietr, creating a bond that consisted of more than their physical bond: a bond created by talking and eating and sleeping together.
He sighed as he sat in the car. Even if it was the right decision to go back to his life in the city, he was still a little sad to leave the place where he had been so happy. To Matt, the cabin in the woods pretty much symbolized everything he had now: a new life with a beautiful mate.
You don't need the symbol when you have the real thing, baby.
Pietr sounded very smug as he reached over and took Matt's hand.
Matt couldn't help laughing out loud.
You just don't have any confidence issues, do you?
Pietr was so sure of himself. Or maybe he was sure of Matt.
Having bonded with his mate was still something of a miracle to Matt, and he wondered daily how he could have been so damn lucky as to find Pietr.
It hadn't exactly been easy, though. Matt had been terrified when the aliens had kidnapped him that horrible day four months ago. He knew that people didn't come back when they were "harvested" like that. Or rather, a few did escape. But they were so deep into psychosis that they couldn't live among people anymore. Either they were committed to a psychiatric hospital, or they killed themselves before anybody could help them.
But Matt had found Pietr. And even though it had created a lot of problems -- a human shouldn't have been able to bond with a Himiko, and the Himika didn't know much about how Matt would react to it -- it was the best thing that had ever happened to Matt. To say that he loved Pietr would be like saying that he kind of liked to breathe. He didn't just love his mate, he needed Pietr and would die without him. Literally, not in the romance-novel way.
He had instinctively curled his fingers tightly around Pietr's hand while he reminisced, and Pietr reassuringly squeezed his hand back.
I love you, too.
Matt nodded. He knew, and the knowledge made him smile. Then he startled.
There was something odd brushing his mind.
They're just humans. Block them out.
You didn't tell me... I can feel them! And what do you mean, "just"?
Another thought brushed his mind, and he shuddered.
Pietr was thoroughly confused.
But you just block them! It's so easy. See, like this?
He made a nice and polite ring around himself.
It'll keep them out just fine, and you can still communicate as you need.
Matt tried it, and it worked. Still, he had questions.
I didn't think we could communicate like that!
Some of you can. You are one of them. Humans just can't hear Himika; your abilities aren't that developed. That's why you need the chip.
Matt instinctively reached up and brushed his fingers over the barely noticeable scar on the back of his neck where his chip had been implanted, enabling him to hear the Himika's mental communication.
Will it be like this from now on?
Would he be able to hear the thoughts of everybody around him? Matt was this close to freaking out at that thought.
No! Matt, calm down.
Pietr tried hard to comfort him.
Not many have the ability at all, and in a short time you won't even notice that you're blocking them. It's nothing like a real shield.
Pietr showed him, and, as usual, the simple demonstration combined with Pietr's total confidence was the best way of convincing Matt of something.
Yeah, you can be really stubborn.
Pietr just laughed, and Matt actually felt himself blushing a bit. That hadn't been the best support of his statement. But he had never been one to give up that easily.
But to get back to my other point: What do you mean by "just" humans?
Pietr groaned, and they bickered all the way into the city. It kept Matt's attention elsewhere, and in a corner of his mind, he knew very well that that was exactly what Pietr intended. Matt hardly had time to think before they were at his building.
Matt's space in the parking garage was still there, and they grabbed as much of their luggage as they could carry before Matt led Pietr up into his apartment. He felt a little apprehensive when he unlocked the door; it would be dusty and stuffy in there after four months.
He was surprised at what he saw when he went in, though. The air seemed fresh, and the stainless steel appliances in the open kitchen were spotless.
We had somebody take care of the place.
Pietr stood in the middle of the floor, looking around, and for the first time, Matt felt him being a little uncertain.
Matt walked over to him.
Welcome home, Pietr.
Matt gave his mate a hug and kept his arms around Pietr.
Isn't it supposed to be me comforting you?
Pietr leaned in, though, grateful for the reassurance. Matt had a hunch that Pietr had been so busy distracting and helping Matt that he hadn't had any time to consider the fact that this was going to be an entirely new life for him, too.
You can distract me all you want after we've unpacked
, Matt assured him.
That seemed to do the trick; Pietr's mind was immediately filled with pictures of a very naked Matt. Matt huffed and pulled back.
You're so easy, you know that?
Pietr was excellent at faking outrage.
I'm just showing my gratitude.
As I said: after we've unpacked.
Matt waggled his eyebrows so suggestively that Pietr couldn't help laughing out loud.
Matt gave him a tour of the apartment. After spending so long in the rustic cabin, his apartment looked odd with its sleek leather sofas and white walls. Being here reminded Matt of everything he had left behind, and he caught himself thinking about work. His assistant had access to the bank accounts and could run everything on a daily basis, so it wasn't as if everything would have shut down just because he wasn't there for a week or two. But he had been gone four months, not just a week or two.
He had been finishing up the proposal for the McCauley project when he was harvested. The competition to build a new wing for the city's museum of natural history had been an excellent opportunity to get into the museum world, and they had really had a good chance of getting the job. If only Shaun had gotten the proposal delivered before the deadline...
See? You do have a life here.
Matt realized that he did. He had been nervous about coming back, but Pietr was right; he did have something to come back to. He had a job that he liked a lot, and suddenly, he couldn't wait to see his employees. It had been months since he had talked to anyone but Himika. Well, months since he had talked much at all -- since he had developed his mental skills, he hadn't used his voice nearly as much as he used to. And architecture was his passion as well as his job. Creating his own company had made all of his dreams and ambitions come true.
Are you going to work today?
Not until tomorrow. I want to catch up with my friends first.
He suddenly remembered Benjamin's face when Matt had been taken out of that classroom.
I should probably go see them as soon as possible.
I'm sorry about that, you know?
Matt looked up; there was a look of shame on Pietr's face as his mate remembered Matt's terror when he was harvested.
It is going to change.
Pietr's inner voice was quietly determined.
We just need to communicate better. Then humans won't be so terrified of us.
Matt had a feeling that it would take a lot more than that; the fear of the harvesting had been strong among humans. Especially when some of the kidnapped people escaped captivity and came back, so deep into psychosis that they were hardly even human anymore. Matt had been terrified.
But he didn't say that to Pietr. Instead he nodded.
I'll go grab the rest of our luggage -- you can begin sorting out your clothes or something in the meantime.
Pietr did, and as Matt went out the door, Pietr was deep in thought as he color-coordinated his clothes before hanging them in the closet. Weirdo.
Matt took a big breath before he raised his hand to knock at the door of the house that Benjamin and Jones shared. He hadn't called beforehand, because he hadn't had a clue what he was going to say. "Honey, I'm home"? He knocked twice.
"Benj, when the fuck are you going to learn to remember your key?" Jones had opened the door without as much as casting a glance outside.
There was an endless moment when Jones froze. Then his friend turned to look at him, and next thing Matt knew, he was swallowed up in Jones' embrace. Matt hugged Jones right back, the familiar feeling of being in Jones' arms so good. They had been lovers for almost a year and friends ever since. This was like coming home.
"Matt! Fuck, I thought you were gone for good." Jones pulled back, looking at Matt with a disbelieving expression on his face. "Are you okay?" He ran his hands feverishly down Matt's face, staring as if to determine whether Matt was sane or not.
What he saw seemed to satisfy him, because he started asking questions. "What did they do to you? Are they after you? Fuck, come on in before they find you."
Jones interrupted himself, casting fearful glances over Matt's shoulder and pulling his arm until Matt was inside the house. Jones slammed the door closed behind him. Matt blinked. It was amazing to be back again, but Jones was acting just a bit weird.
"Will they come after you?" Jones looked more nervous than Matt remembered seeing ever before.
"Jones, relax. They let me go; they're not after me. It's all good." Matt smiled and hugged Jones again. Then he slapped Jones on the back, pulled away, and headed for the living room. Thank God he didn't feel any indication that Jones was able to communicate mentally.
"God, it feels like ages since I've been here." Matt studied the room as if it were the first time he had been here, seeing the battered furniture and the ridiculously expensive plasma TV on the wall, complete with surround-sound equipment spread all over the living room. Benjamin and Jones had always agreed on their priorities when it came to decorating.
Jones followed him in there, still staring at him. "I can't believe you're here. You're sure you're okay?" Jones looked questioningly at him, as if Matt could jump out the window any minute.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's good to see you." It was. Hanging out with Jones had been the most normal thing about his old life. "Now, how about a beer?" Matt didn't particularly want one, but Jones kept staring at him.
The question finally goaded Jones into action. "Sure. We got to celebrate that you're out of their claws. Have you seen anybody else but me? I've been doing a campaign to get you free; maybe that's why they let you go. Here, have a look at what I've been doing since they harvested you." Jones was talking way too fast for Matt to answer his question, and now the man went over and grabbed a pile of flyers from the table, handing one to Matt before heading into the kitchen.
Matt blinked when he saw a picture of himself and a heading reading "Stop the kidnappings!" There were more on the table, different designs and colors, but all of them with his face on them.
"Listen, Jones, it wasn't exactly like that." Matt wasn't sure that Jones could hear him in the kitchen. It didn't seem that way when Jones came back into the room.
"When did you get back? Why didn't you call me?" Jones' questions kept coming while he put the beers down on the table.
"I came back to the city a couple of hours ago, and I didn't call you because I didn't know what to say to you." Matt shrugged.
Jones' expression softened as he came back to Matt.
"Fuck, Matt. You know you can always call me." Jones gave Matt another hug, holding on to him for a long time.