“This was a bad idea,” Declan mumbled. The trip through the portal was smooth sailing. They had been standing outside of the place where everyone was staying. Nervous was an understatement. Declan couldn’t stand still. His anxiety was at an all time high as he contemplated what to do next.
“Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet! I can’t let my son date a wimp,” Ethan teased.
“I’m telling you that Alistair won’t reciprocate my feelings. he’s made it more than clear that he’s straight,” Declan prtoested.
“How’s that?” Ethan smirked as he watched the boy struggle.
Declan paused for a moment. “Err…he always talked about Madelynn and, uh…”
“Has he looked at girls when he was with you?” Ethan asked.
“No, but he hasn’t looked at guys either,” Declan answered.
“Ever thought that maybe he’s just not happy with the dating scene? That maybe Alistair doesn’t feel an attraction just based on looks? He’s always needed a bit more attention than my other kids. He’s needed to know that he fit in and that he was loved. That’s all he ever searched for, that one pocket where he belonged. So maybe he’s just looking for the right heart to settle into and it has nothing to do with being gay or straight.”
Declan rubbed his eyes. “You and your husband…”
“Apollo knew he was gay when I met him, it was a bit different. I definitely knew I was gay, but I wouldn’t have stopped trying even if Apollo swinged the other way. The Grays just have this pull. It’s like, when they find the one, there isn’t anything that can stop them from attracting the other person. I definitely understand the term soulmate, they’ll never love anyone more than their one. I noticed that through Apollo, his brother, his aunts and uncles and even his father. They never break hearts. Alistair will be no different, Apollo raised him well.” Ethan crossed his arms over his chest and shut his eyes.
Declan watched him for a moment before speaking. “You miss him a lot.”
“Yes,” Ethan whispered. “So much, but I’m really nervous to see how much he’s grown. It’s just a reminder of what’s happened, and I know I’m the adult who should be strong, but so much crap has piled on and it’s all my fault. That’s why I need you to be strong for him, when I can’t be there and shit hits the fan. He’s going to need you. Whether is romantic or just friendly. Always be there for him, can you promise me that?”
“Is that even a question?” Declan mumbled. “I’ll always have his back. Always.”
“Good, then I think he’ll be happy to see us.” Ethan patted Declan’s back. “Let’s go in.”
As soon as Ethan knocked on the door he was bombarded with a hug from Lucas. “Dad…?” he asked in shock. “I mean I knew you were here with Alistair but I, I don’t know what I was expecting.”
“I’m sorry,” Lucas said. “I’ve waited so damn long to say that to you.”
“Why does everyone keep apologizing to me? Are you forgetting that I’m the one who screwed everything up in the first place when it came to this whole keeper of magic thing?” Ethan asked.
“Can you imagine yourself here watching over the people of Moonlight Falls and not with your husband and children?” Lucas asked seriously.
“Of course not, I love my family. I just…Damian wouldn’t be so powerful,” Ethan replied. He had felt a bit awkward meeting his father like this after all these years, but Lucas was more than grateful for his presence. Despite everything that Ethan did, all the pain that he caused his family, his father still welcomed him with open arms. He wanted to be like his father to his kids, he just never expected to leave them so damn early. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he remembered they were on limited time. Saving his son was top priority than they could play the catchup game. “Oh! Dad, by the way, I don’t think pinkie over here told you that Altiere’s manifested himself in my son’s mind. With his powe he could cause time distortions, and all that dangerous stuff. And, the magic that Declan has is solely that of Altiere’s right now. What do we do?”
“If I knew, I wouldn’t have told him to bring you to life, would I?” Lucas looked at his son. “I know you’ve been training and I know you’re more than capable of opening that portal. Also, who knows Alistair better than his father?”
Ethan smiled. “Where is my kiddo anyway?”
“He’s been locked up in that room ever since Declan left, he won’t come out,” Pepper said. Ethan eyed the girl, remembering how she looked when Alistair was just a small child.
All eyes fell on Declan. “What, why me?”
“You’re the reason he’s so upset,” Pepper clarified. “He won’t even look at the girls.”
“I also want to see my grand daughters, I’m so excited!” Ethan said happily. “So, I hope you can get my son out so that he’ll talk to me.”
“Seeing you will make him respond for sure,” Declan muttered. “I can’t do anything that you can’t.”
“Actually you’re wrong,” Lucas said. “Alistair cares more about you than he’s willing to admit. More than he thinks is normal at least. Despite growing up with gay parents, homosexuality has never been an easily accepted thing. Maybe he’s just afraid to face you.”
“Or maybe he isn’t gay,” Declan said angrily. “Stop trying to make things okay for me. I’ve already come to terms with my misfortunes!”
“Enough Tiger,” Ethan said. “We’re just trying to help. Alistair is our flesh and blood, so I think we may know his confused witch’s mind a little bit better than yours. It has nothing to do with gender with him. He loves passionately but he has so much more at stake now. He has two daughters, friends, a grandfather, all people that he doesn’t want to lose. He’s treading slowly through the murky water. Bear with him, he’s trying to make this as painless as possible.” With an encouraging pat on the back Declan sighed in defeat.
He banged on the door. “Alistair!” How the hell had he not heard all the racket they were making?
“Declan?” Alistiar called back.
“Yeah it’s me, what’s up? Why have I been told that you’ve locked yourself in this room?” Declan asked clamly. “What are you doing?”
“Leave me alone!” He shouted back, any hint of confusion, anticipation and curiousity gone. “I don’t want to talk to you!”
“Alistair, this is important. I’ve made a big mistake, Altiere is angry with me,” Declan tried to explain. “He’s dangerous, we need to talk.”
“Stop!” Alistair screamed. “Please just stop!”
Declan pounded on the door once again. “Alistair! Listen to me, this isn’t a joke! You’re in danger, the girls are in danger!” All Declan could hear was the low sobbing coming from the other side of the door. “Alistair?” Declan turned to face the group of waiting faces, mortified. “He’s uh…crying. What do I do?”
“Step aside, pinkie.” Ethan lightly pushed Declan away from the door. “Stand behind me, and everyone cover your face.”
“What are you going to do?” Pepper asked.
“Already using a spell?” Lucas asked. “You don’t have to enchant the door or anything.”
“Who said anything about enchanting? I haven’t used my wand since I began training Alistair! I’m itching to cast the fire spell one more time.” Ethan grinned.
“In our safe house?” Declan asked. “We already had to leave the last one. Where else do we have to go?”
“The museum,” Lucas said. “The one no one ever goes to except for your little batallion.”
“You know about that?” Declan asked. “I thought-”
“I’m not an idiot,” Lucas said. “I know about everything that goe son with my mages. It’s my job. Whether I choose to speak about it or not, is something else entirely.” He eyed Declan. “Why else would I have taken you under my wing if I didn’t sense a boy needing some help?”
“Sir…” Declan muttered. But before he could say anything else, he felt the heat and saw the door to Alistair’s room, literally burn down.
Ethan slumped up against the door when the smoke faded. “Alistair, did ya miss me?”
“Do you always have to make an entrance?” Declan grumbled. “If you could have launched yourself out of the grave, you would have.”
“Damn straight! Let me enjoy the fact that you guys need me so much that you brought me back from the grave!” He smiled cheesily, but Alistair hadn’t moved from his spot in the corner of the room. “Al, I thought that would have made you laugh. What’s wrong?” He approached his son and dropped down to his knees. “Al, hey, look, it’s me. Your dead dad come to life.” He snapped his fingers in front of Alistair’s eyes. “Hey!”
“Dad?” Alistair looked up. Ethan could sense that something wasn’t right.
He placed his hand across his son’s forehead. “You’re burning up! Declan, get me a wet rag, and be quick!” Declan nodded and ran out of the room. “Alistair, what’s wrong?”
“He won’t stop…” He murmured. “Please make him stop…he won’t get out of my head.”
“Altiere?” Ethan asked, pushing Alistair’s hair from his wet forehead. “Damn it, Declan really pissed him off. Listen, Al, you need to fight him. Don’t let him win control of your mind.”
Alistair began to shiver. “I’m trying, he’s just so loud!”
“What is he saying?” Declan asked. “Altiere, I mean. Did he threaten you?”
“He threatened me before you left,” Alistair whimpered “He told me not to let you go and give up your powers.”
“And you didn’t tell me?” Declan asked.
“No, you were going to do it anyway because you’re a stubborn idiot who never listens to a damn word I say,” Alistair huffed as he clutched his stomach tightly. “I just didn’t think that he’d-”
“Alistair?” Ethan pulled his son tightly to his chest. “Hey, stay with us, alright?”
“Dad…I can’t believe you’re here. I’m so happy, even if…it’s under these circumstances.” Alistair began to cough, causing Ethan to pull him closer. “Wait…how is Declan even here? His magic is gone…”
“My magic is gone, not Altiere’s. It kind of backfired,” Decalan said nervously. “I did this to you.”
“No, you were trying to help,” Alistair said in between breaths, trying to stop the pain. “But I-” Alistair let out a blood curdling scream. “I need him out of my head, he won’t stop. He’s messing with my thoughts! It hurts so damn much. I’m not strong enough.”
“Surprise, surprise, took you guys long enough to show up. I’ve been waiting.” With a flash of light, Altiere had appeared.
“Alistair?” Ethan shook his son, but he wouldn’t wake up.
“Ethan, is he alright?” Declan asked.
“He’s still breathing!” Ethan held him tighlty in his arms. He glared up at Altiere. “This was not how I expected we’d meet again.”
“Oh, Mr. Nair. You had no idea all of this time that I was implanted within your son’s DNA. You should really stop doing business with those shady guardians. They’re worse than that time travelling fellow.” Altiere cackled. “Oh boy, you should see the looks on your faces right now!”
“I thought you said physical contact.” Declan tunred to Ethan. “What the ehck happened?”
“I guess I’ve underestimated him. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here,” Ethan muttered. “Shit, what should we do?”
“That’s why I brought you to life!” Declan exclaimed. “If I could do it, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
“Would you like some explanation?” Altiere asked in amusement. “I’m shocked honestly. The son of the great Lucas Nair, and Declan, the man who single handedly caused my demise, are at a loss. Seems like all the effort was worthless, Declan. You could have had the life you wanted, with me. But you screwed up the minute you chose that little brat. What does he have? He’s just some knock off of me. He’s not even very powerful.”
“That’s my son you’re talking about,” Ethan growled. “And Declan is part of my family by association, so shut the hell up!”
“Pushy, aren’t you?” He grinned. “You’re both idiots. I warned you not to go and revive him. It would have been harder for me to come back to life, but I wouldn’t have to see his face again.” He looked at Ethan in disgust. “Declan, I so very much hate all of the Nairs. Alistair is no exception.”
“So then, I’ve dug my own grave?” Declan asked. “Well you’re wrong. Alistair is the right choice. I need him in my life.” Ethan smiled and gave Declan a reassuring smile.
“You can do this,” Ethan whispered.
“Oh, so you guys are a happy family right now?” Altiere asked angrily. “Let’s not talk about how your idiotic desicions, Mr. Gage, is the reason that I’m alive right now. Oh, it’s so good to be in my body once again. I forgot how great having thumbs is!”
“How the hell did you get your body back?” Ethan demanded. “Stop changing the damn subject.”
“Oh, alright. You caught me.” He was back to grinning. “Well, you see, Declan’s magic was his natural shield against my influence. I couldn’t manifest myself inside of him because it was blocking me off. Alistair, was much more weaker. I knew I could get him easily. Once Declan’s walls were down, I striked. As for why I told Alistair not to let you give up your powers, because I know you want to know, it was a test. I wanted to see where each other’s loyalty lies, and it’s sickeningly sweet that it’s to each other. But, I promised you that I’d get my revenge, so here I am.”
“What the hell do you want?” Ethan asked, readying his wand.
“Your magic won’t hurt me, you know I’m much stronger than you could ever be.”
While Altiere was distracted, Declan lunged towards him. “Bad move, Dec. How many times do I have to tell you that I won’t hesitate to hurt you now that you’ve made your choice.” Declan doubled over in pain as Altiere kneed him. “Stop playing games with me, once and for all.”
Ethan laid Alistair flat on the floor and stood up. He pointed his wand at Altiere who launched a blast right towards Alistair. “That was a cheap shot,” Ethan yelled as he dove in front of Alistair to block the attack. He curled back in defeat as Altiere wreaked havoc.
“Ethan, are you alright?” Declan asked, clutching his chest.
“I’m bleeding pretty bad, but don’t get alarmed…” Ethan huffed. “I’ve been through worse.”
“I’m going to take what I want from you all and leave. Is that so hard? If you keep resisting, I’m going to have to kill Ethan, and then he won’t get to save his precious little children.” Altiere pointed an emblazoned finger at Ethan’s figure. “What’s it going to be?”
“Damn it,” Ethan cursed. “What the hell do you want?”
“I want Adeline. I’ve always admired how caring and attentive you were to her, Declan.” Altiere smirked. “I will raise her as my own so you can really know the pain you’ve caused me. Loving someone and not having them ever be able to return that love. I’ll be her new dad, forget Alistair.”
“You can’t take Alistair’s daughter!” Declan had slowly crawled in front of Ethan. “You kill me, not him.”
“No, this isn’t how this game works, I want you to suffer.” Altiere pointed his beam towards Alistair’s motionless body. “I’ll kill him right here and now. But I guess it doesn’t matter much for his girls anyway. I’ll be handing Charlotte over to Damian because I do owe him for everything he’s done for me in the past.”
“You said you were trying to defeat him!” Declan growled.
“Well, who doesn’t want to rule this entire place? He’ll get what’s coming to him when it’s time. For now, I give him this peace offering. Speaking of which, I really ought to go. I’m wasting a lot of time here. Pepper! Be a dear and bring me the babies.”
“Pepper?” Declan asked in shock. “What are you doing?”
Pepper held both babies in her arms. She handed Adeline over to Altiere and kept Charlotte in her grasp. “This is all your fault. Don’t even pretend like you’re mad,” She said.
“My fault? What the hell Pepper! Alistair trusted you with his girls! He thought so damn highly of you. Where the hell is Sienna? Why are you doing this?” The questions shot out of his mouth like bullets.
“After you left, Alistair became so distraught. I tried to help him. I told him that I loved him and he couldn’t return those feelings! He didn’t have to say it, but I knew it was you Declan, that was stopping him. He was at an all time low, and Altiere had been able to talk to him through me. That’s when he told me his plan and I agreed. I’ll help him take care of Alsitair’s child, because if I can’t have him, I’m taking the next best thing.”
“You’re insane, Pepper. Listen to yourself, Alistair wouldn’t want this. He cares so much about you,” Declan pleaded.
“But taking them will hurt you just as much and that’s all the satusfaction I need to make up for what you took from me!” She was shouting now.
“Imaginary friends, are unstable,” Ethan mumbled. “Their love is an obsession. Alistair was doomed from the beginning. She’s-”
“We can talk all day, but I really have to go. By the way, you should go and check on your father. He may be a little under the weather. I mean, what do you expect from someone who tries to stop my plan from going into motion? Oh and that pink girl too.” With a short wave, Altiere had disappeared with Pepper and the girls.
Declan tried to grab them as they were fading but he could barley move. “Damn it!” He cried out. “I screwed up.”
“It’s not your fault,” Ethan mumbled, willing himself to stand up. “We couldn’t stop him, but we’ll get them back.”
“How much can we do in a few days?” Declan whispered. “You don’t have any time left and-”
“Your magic is gone.” Ethan observed. “But that was pretty painless, wasn’t it? You didn’t even feel it, unlike Alistair.”
“I… I don’t know.” Declan held his head in his hands. “I…what just happened?” He had royally screwed up and it was going to take a lot to make things right.