Declan thought about it, and then he thought about it again, and again and again, and yet, he came to the same conclusion each and every time. He loved Alistair more than anything in the entire world. It didn’t matter that he didn’t return the feelings, it didn’t matter that he’d never see him again if he did this. All that mattered was that he was happy. Declan tried to sleep that night, but his mind kept wandering to other things. How soft Alistair’s lips were, how smooth his hair was, how great it felt to have his body pushed up against him. “Get your head out of the gutter Dec,” He mumbled as he sat up in bed.
“Declan,” Altiere’s voice spoke. “Don’t you dare go through with this.”
“Leave me alone Altiere,” Declan spat.
“I will not leave you alone. You took my powers, this is what you deserve you foul creature! I can’t believe that I let myself love someone like you, you conniving little brat!”
“Guess I’m glad that I took your powers then,” Declan muttered. “Because now I can do something good for once in my life.”
“You won’t do it, Declan. If you do it, I’m going to make Alistair’s life a living hell,” He seethed.
:You won’t be able to, you’ll only have half your powers. All Lucas has to do is suppress your powers inside of Alistair and he should be fine. You can’t hurt him,” Declan said calmly.
“Oh, is that what you think? Don’t believe that I have a few tricks up my sleeve? I always do, you know that. You don’t think I’d let myself be destroyed so easily, do you?”
Declan had heard enoughfrom Altiere and had long since stood up. He was going to do this for Alistair.
“Damnit, this place is huge,” Declan said to himself. “I’ll be here all day reading headstones.”
“Declan,” Altiere boomed. “I’m giving you one chance to stop this right now!”
“No,” Declan said firmly. “I love him.”
“And I love you!” Altiere’s voice shouted. “I love you but you keep pushiing me away, alienating me…hurting me.”
“That isn’t what you said a few hours ago.”
“I was speaking out of anger. You know how I feel about you. You also know how Alistair feels about you. If you take away my power, you’ll be destroying the only person youhave left. I’d give up my powers for you, but you need to help me escape. You need to help me get out of Alistair’s body and then, I’m all yours,” Altiere said.
“Rule number one, never trust a vampire,” Declan muttered. “I’m not an idiot. And even if I was, I wouldn’t want to spend my life with you. I rather help my best friend and live alone for the rest of my mortal life.”
“Declan,” Altiere’s voice beecame angrier. “I am losing my patience. I may not be able to hurt you, but my power has manifested inside of Alistair. I will cause another time distortion, or even worse. I’m going to take whats most precious to him. I will destroy him.”
“You can’t,” Declan said. “When I took your powers-”
“What? When you took my powers, it somehow gave you control over me? Maybe that was true before Alistair came along, but by spending so much time together, you’ve connected. You’ve made my powers stronger. You’ve caused yourself to fall in love with each other, all because of my power.”
Declan hadn’t heard anything but the last line. In love with each other. He felt his heart rate quicken. Was there a chance that Alistair had loved him back? Even if there was the slightest chance, Declan knew that he had to go through with this. By bringing Ethan to life, he’d lose Altiere’s magic. That would mean that Altiere’s power was weakened and he coudn’t take hold of Alistair. He was basically talking out of his ass, trying to save himself. It was idiotic and Declan wouldn’t fall for it.
“I’m telling you one last damn time,” Declan seethed. “I am in love with Alistair Gray. It has nothing to do with your powers, we will never go back to what we were because I never loved you. You have never made me feel like Alistair has and you will never ever be able to. I am going to do whats best for him. He will be able to see his dad and save his siblings and you will not stop him. he is stronger than you, he will defeat you and Damian.”
Altiere cackled. “Suit yourself, sweetheart. I guess I’ll see you on the other side We’ll both be lonely old tortured souls.”
After hours of searching for Ethan’s grave, Declan had finally come across a lone headstone that read, “Ethan Gray.” It was peculiar. He had always heard of the man as Ethan Nair. Seeing Gray added to his name made Declan’s heart swell. He had wanted to be a Gray, but never realized it. He wished he had the father figures that Alistair had. Hearing his stories brought up so many regrets of his past. Not saying goodbye to his father, not saying he loved him before he had run out after Sienna, not being able to keep his own family together. It haunted him. Did he love Alistair because of how perfect his life seemed despite the mess he was in? Did he love Alistair because of Altiere’s power? Or did he just love Alistair because he was simply, the most incredible person he had laid eyes on? Shaking his head, Declan had no time to worry. He knew what he had to do and before he even realized it, he was chanting spells. Ethan’s bones had risen from the ground, saving Declan some serious digging time. As the spell went on, flesh was added and soon Ethan looked like a living, breathing human being.
“Uh…care to explain why I’m not dead anymore?” Declan jumped back at his voice. Resurrecting someone was surreal. He had never dreamed it possible. He had half expected it not to work.
Dropping the wand, Declan looked down at his hands. “It feels the exact same being mortal.”
Ethan’s smile was kind. He had let out a small chuckle as he watched the pink haired male oggle him in awe. “What’s the matter, never raise the dead before?”
“You’re Alistair’s dad,” Declan said breathlessly. “My powers…I gave up my powers to revive you. Please tell me that I didn’t make a mistake. You’re Ethan Nair, right?”
“Yes, that’s me. I know, I don’t really look much like my son, or my father, I’m guessing since you seem to be a skilled mage.” Ethan held his hand out. “Who are you and how do you know my son?”
“My name is Declan Gage. Alistair and I train under your dad in Moonlight Falls. I’ve brought you back to life because we’re in a bit of trouble,” Declan explained.
“Declan Gage, huh?” He tilted his head. “You’re not related to Zoe and Dustin Gage, are you?”
“You knew my parents?” Declan asked in awe. “They’re…they’re not living anymore. Or not with me and my sister aymore at least. What I mean is that my dad was killed by Damian and my mom kind of ran away from us…I, no forget it.” Declan found himself tripping over his words in front of Ethan despite his warm exterior. The man had just been brought to life but he wasn’t shooting questions at him. He was speaking calmly, listening to him. Apollo had done the same thing. It was no wonder that Alistair had been raised so well.
“I had known your mother by association, but your father and I were really good friends as teenagers. He was the only one who actually gave me the time of day. He and your mother actually helped me hide from Damian all those years ago when I had run from my own parent’s home. They were good people and I’m sorry to hear about what happened,” Ethan said softly.
“No, he was a good man. My mother wasn’t, she abandonded me!” Declan took a step back. “We don’t have time to argue, we have to get you to Moonlight Falls to save your children!”
“Hey!” Ethan called out, grabbing his shoulders firmly. “Please calm down. I prepared for something like this. I always knew that the guardians were going to force my son to go to Moonlight Falls to train. I didn’t want to sign his will away to to those monsters but we didn’t have a choice. I’m sorry for seeming so uncaring towards my son right now by not asking about it sooner, but I see a broken boy in front of me and I can’t let you sit here alone and confused. Alistair, wherever he is, can handle himself for a few more moments while we talk.”
“I’m not broken or confused,” Declan breathed. “I just, we can talk later. Right now, we have a few hours before morning, so we go back to your house and you can see your husband again, then you go and meet up with Alistair and open the portal to Imaginationland.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Ethan said. “Until you tell me from the beginning what is so urgent. I want every detail, because it involves my son.”
Declan let out the breath he had been holding. “Everything? it’s a long story.” Ethan nodded. “Alistair went to Moonlight Falls after you died. He wanted revenge on Damian for killing you but he also wanted to get stronger to find his siblings. He trained under Lucas with me, my sister and our best friend Miles. Everything had been going well until about a year later when Alistair ran into Damian’s daughter, Aria. Everything went down hill from there.” Declan explained everything to Ethan, careful not to leave out any details. Even about Altiere.
Ethan frowned. “We have a few more problems than what you just told me. For one, you didn’t give up your magic. You’re not human, not yet at least. Take out your wand and cast a basic fire spell.”
Declan did as he was told and shot a fireball from his wand. “But…how is that possible?” Declan asked in awe.”My powers are supposed to be gone. Lucas said so himself.”
“My dad miscalculated.” Ethan looked up. “Or maybe he didn’t know that you had Altiere’s powers backing you up. Altiere is incredibly powerful. THat’s why you couldn’t hold all of his power on yourself. Hearing that it’s in my son is news to me. What you did was use the magic closest to you, which, if I’m correct was yours. You should still have Altiere’s magic inside of you. Your body was accustomed to your magic, which is why it hasn’t reached to Altiere’s yet. Just from that spell I can tell that you’re using Altiere’s magic. It’s larger than a normal fireball. Is that average for you?”
“No,” Declan said. “It isn’t. My magic is normally a bit more tamed.”
“Well there ya go. You’ve been using your magic. Your body has been fighting Altiere’s magic, but now that you depleted yours, your body is depending on his to adjust. That’s a problem especially because of what Altiere threatened. If you and Alistair connect in any way physically, Altiere will have his full power and get his physical body back. We can’t have that. He’s been lurking in Moonlight Falls for a while. And I know better than anyone that this man is dangerous. He may even be worse than Damian.”
“Damnit!” Declan cursed. “He knew that from the beginning! He knew that I’d give him his body back by bringing you to life. I can’t go near him. I can’t be the reason that he hurts Alistair. I was trying to protect him, to give him what he wanted. I…” Declan held his head in his hands. “I messed up.”
“You didn’t mess up,” Ethan coaxed. “Altiere is a tricky man, he plays with people’s minds. But, I don’t doubt that he really loved you. You were able to defeat him, there is no real reason why he would let you do that other than if he loved you for real. But there are other problems as well. Rickie, my imaginary friend will probably have arisen with me. I hope not, but I think that once my life force is awakened, his will be as well. I haven’t seen him in a while, but he could still potentially be dangerous.”
“That’s three villains right now,” Declan said. “My head is throbbing. I can’t do this.”
“Focus,” Ethan instructed. “There is more than three villains. Damian didn’t kill me.”
“What?” Declan asked in disbelief. “You didn’t come to Moonlight Falls looking for your children?”
“No,” Ethan said slowly. “But I don’t want to talk about the details. Just know that there’s someone else you have to worry about. Someone equally as powerful.”
“Mason?” Declan mouthed, remembering Alistair’s warning. Ethan nodded. “Four bad guys, cool. I screwed this up for Alistair.”
Ethan smiled once more, grabbing Declan’s shoulders firmly in his large hands. “What is my son to you?”
“The love of my life,” Declan admitted. It had come much more easier to him talking to Ethan thn it had with Apollo. Declan was irrevocably in love with Alistair Gray and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop him. “Except, I know that he doesn’t return the feelings.”
“How can you know something like that?” Ethan asked. “Unless he’s said it himself?”
“He didn’t have to say it, when I kissed im, his face said enough. Now he’s going to hate me even more, he told me not to go out and do this. He told me that he needed me there with him, but all I saw was pain and rejection. I didn’t want to live without him, I wanted to spend my last minute as a witch helping him.”
“We’re going to go back to my place, I’m going to see my husband again and you are going to pack whatever you brought with you because we’re going to Moonlight Falls. You need to come with me,” Ethan instructed.
“I can’t. I won’t hurt Alistair again.”
“Listen to me, I need your powers to help me if my plan is going to work. I can oppen the portal and I can allow Alistair to come with me to Imaginationland, but he needs someone to watch his girls and to hold fort. Don’t dump this on my father when it’s obvious that you’re the only one who is qualified to help those kids grow. You know what it’s like to be in the middle of something much bigger than you. I need you to watch my grandkids. Can you do that for me? If not for me, for Alistair?”
Declan looked up, tears biting his eyes. “I don’t want to be the reason that something happens to him.”
“Don’t forget how strong Alistair is.” Ethan took a step forward “Come on before anyone here notices a dead man walking.”
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Apollo screamed at Declan. “Don’t just leave like that! I was worried for your safety.”
“My safety?” Declan asked. “But you barely know me.”
“A friend of Alistairs is always welcome in this house and he would expect me to take care of you like you’re my son,” Apollo lectured. “Leaving in the middle of the night when you’re new to the world is idiotic.”
“Aww come on now babe, his heart was in the right place.” Apollo’s face dropped when he saw Ethan.
“Is that really you?” He stood firmly, afraid to move closer. “My Ethan?”
“Yes, it’s me,” Ethan whispered. “Not what you expected?”
“You idiot…” Apollo mumbled. “I told you to tell me about everything. No secrets, remember?”
“I know but if I told you where I was going, you’d never let me go.” He smiled sadly, watching his husband freak out. It was one of those things he would never want to go a day without again.
“Well, look what happened,” He said, eyes downcast. “Ethan, how can you be so stupid?”
“Love makes you do idiotic things. I needed to investigate and protect my family. I’d do it again for you and Alistair.” He watched as Apollo inched closer to him.
“It’s really you,” He mumbled into Ethan’s arms. Ethan had pulled him tightly to his chest and just inhaled his scent. “I love you, and I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry?” Ethan asked in disbelief. “For what? You’ve always been the perfect husband and father.”
“For letting you give up your magic for me. You left everything you knew to be with me. I held you back. You barely had any friends here other than my family, and you couldn’t practice things that had come so naturally to you before.”
“Apollo, shut up.” Ethan leaned his chin against his husband’s head. “You never held me back. I chose to do all of that. I’d do it again in a heart beat. When I met you, you turned my world upside down. I began to question everything that I knew. I wanted to be a better person for you, for us, for our family. You’ve been the greatest thing to ever happen to me. You can do no wrong in my eyes. I love you.”
“I love you so damn much.” Apollo held him tightly. What hurt the most was knowing that Ethan would be back in the grave in just a few short days.
“You guys truly are amazing,” Declan said. “Everything Alistair said is true. I can see why he’s been so hung up on seeing you guys again.”
Apollo turned to the pink haired male. “You chose my son’s happiness over yours? You really do love him, then.”
“Did you doubt him? He practically glows when he talks about Alistair. I always thought he’d end up with Madelyn, but following in his father’s footsteps and marrying a handsome powerful mage that he met in Moonlight Falls is not a bad catch,” Ethan laughed.
Apollo held Ethan tightly, as if letting go would erase his entire existence. “What fo you do now that you have no magic?”
“He hasn’t lost all his magic yet,” Ethan said. “He had more in his arsenal than people care to realize. He is going to come with me to Moonlight Falls. He’s going to watch our grandkids, while Alistair and I save the triplets. After that, I’ll probably go back to the hole that I came from and Declan will confront Alistair about his feelings once more when there isn’t so much hanging over his head.”
“You’re leaving right now, aren’t you?” Apollo whispered.
“I have no time to lose, we need to get the kids back,” Ethan said.
Clinging tighter to Ethan, Apollo began to sob. “I’m sorry for not taking you more seriously when you were so obsessesed with the imaginary friends. You warned us, and I didn’t see it.”
“Don’t blame yourself for anything, just kiss me and promise me that you’ll keep it together for our family, okay?”
Apollo nodded and captured Ethan’s lips for the last time. “I wish we could be together longer. Saying goodbye is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve been in so much pain without you, I’ve been putting on a brave face for everyone, when really, I’ve been dead inside. I haven’t been the same since you died. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, I just need you to know how much you mean to me. I will always hold on to your memory and I will always love you more than anyone in the entire world. Ethan Nair, you have always been selfless and done things for me, and the kids, even the triplets who aren;t yours by blood. You gave them a loving environment, you saved them from Jordan and their mother. You will always have my heart and theirs. No matter what happens, I love you.”
“Apollo…”Ethan buried his face into his husband’s shirt. He tried to keep up his brave front but he couldn’t. The tears began to fall from his eyes as he choked out his response. “You have made me the happiest man alive. I’ve become a better person because of you, and the kids. I love your parents, your brother, his kids, your aunts, uncles, everyone. Especially, our beautiful children. Thank you for raising them so well, and even more thank you for taking charge and being strong for all of us. We may not see each other for a while but it doesn’t change my feelings for you. You will always be the light o f my life. Apollo Gray, I love you.”