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In Another Life - Part II

Title: In Another Life - Part II
Fandom: the Covenant
Pairings: Chase/Caleb, minor Caleb/Sarah, Pogue/Kate
Rating/Warnings: NC-17, some violence; non-consensual kissing
Word Count: 10,178 (19885 so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned the Covenant, they would all be naked.
Summary: Caleb hates his life; he buries the truth in lies and secrets until Chase Collins blows into town and changes everything.

Part I


So the warlock drives back into town, stopping briefly at the dorms for Chase to run in and leave his stuff. Then it’s on to Nicky’s, the teens walking into the pub to see Pogue, Kate, and Sarah sitting in the usual spot.

“You remember Chase,” Caleb says by way of introduction before claiming one of the empty seats at the table, Chase sitting down beside him before Sarah can jump up. The other teen gives him a conspiratorial wink at the girl's audible huff of disappointment and Caleb could definitely get used to having Chase around. However, it seems that Sarah isn't one to be kept from her goal so easily and the warlock jumps back to his feet when something slides up the inside of his leg.

“Foosball!” he squeaks before getting his voice under control. “How about a game?”

The suggestion distracts everyone nicely since Pogue never backs down from a challenge and Chase apparently wasn't kidding about his skills. He takes the first game ten to zero against Caleb and nearly does the same to Pogue before the other warlock manages to score a few points of his own. After that Pogue demands a rematch and if the conversation mostly consists of trash-talking, Caleb can live with that. At least his best friend and his sort of boyfriend don’t seem to hate each other yet.

“So Caleb tells me you guys are swimmers; I may try for the team myself if you need a Freestyle man,” Chase says once he's trounced Pogue again and passed the table back to Caleb, and the teen gives him a grateful smile for making the attempt. Not only is the other boy trying to get along with his friends but he was actually listening when Caleb talked about his hobbies and so maybe the warlock isn't the only person crushing hard.

Unfortunately, Pogue shuts Chase down pretty quickly. He’s always been territorial about his friends and he probably thinks that Chase is after Kate, mostly because he thinks everyone is after Kate until proven otherwise.

Which actually makes Caleb want to tell Pogue the truth. The fact that he's kind of dating Chase should be a point in his favor in terms of jealousy, although with Pogue you never know. The other warlock is just as likely to get protective over Caleb’s heart instead. Still, once he managed to convince Pogue that Chase wasn't taking advantage of him somehow, the other teen would probably relax.

So Caleb opens his mouth to test the waters, only to stop short when someone starts the jukebox up. Most people never bother with that thing since Nicky's is loud enough already, though a resounding cheer goes up when people recognize the song.

I Love Rock n Roll is one of those tunes that everyone knows the words to even if they hate it and Caleb is definitely going to hate it after this. Because Sarah suddenly interrupts the conversation, grabbing his hand and pulling him away from the table before he can object. The teen looks to Chase for rescue, but the other boy just shrugs and Caleb can practically hear him thinking: 'Sorry. That’s the price of secrecy.'

Which means the warlock can either suck it up and dance with Sarah or tell the truth for once and he hasn't decided which option he should go with when a crash across the bar makes the question moot. It's Reid and Tyler getting themselves into trouble and Caleb doesn't even think before he starts across the floor.

“You need any help?” Chase asks, but as much as the warlock appreciates the concern, this is family business. So Caleb just shakes his head and tells Chase to stay with the girls for now.

“I'll be back in a few minutes,” he promises, Pogue falling into step behind him as he goes to drag Reid and Tyler out of whatever trouble the two of them have found tonight. Caleb follows the sound of arguing outside to see Reid facing off with Aaron Abbott and his buddies; Aaron’s general dickishness aggravated by the blond's smirking refusal to back down.

Apparently Reid was cheating at pool by Using and Aaron was stupid enough to put money on the line. Both of them should have known better and by the time Nicky comes out to end the argument – his glare less effective than the baseball bat he's holding – Caleb isn’t sure which person he wants to punch out more.

It's too much – the Darkling, the reckless Using, the stupid teenage idiocy that's going to get the other warlock killed someday. So after Aaron slinks back into the bar, Caleb grabs Reid's shoulder, determined to shove some sense into his stubborn head this time.

But the blond refuses to listen and the conversation doesn’t stay civil very long. When Caleb won’t let him leave, Reid actually Uses on him, pushing until he has to push back or risk a broken arm, and the warlock’s temper snaps.

“How many times do I have to tell you?!” Caleb shouts, slamming Reid back into a pile of crates. “It's addictive, you moron! Keep Using like you did tonight, like you did last night, and there won't be anything left to save!”

“You're such a fucking hypocrite! We would have crashed and burned without all four of us and I didn’t see you being the voice of reason when the cops were on our tail,” the blond shouts back, shoving himself to his feet with a scowl.

“Not then, later.”

“I didn't Use later!” Reid says, frustration dripping from the words. And Caleb wants to believe him; he wants to believe that his friend would never call a Darkling no matter how strongly the power sang to him.

But if Reid didn’t send the Darkling then Caleb has a much more serious problem on his hands. That would mean there was another warlock here in Ipswich because Pogue would never and Tyler isn't a good enough liar to go bad without them noticing. It’s impossible and yet… the founders of Ipswich couldn't have been the only warlocks to sail to the New World and the witch trials were remarkably bad at killing those with power instead of innocents.

“You swear, Reid? You swear on the Covenant that it wasn't you last night?" Caleb asks, needing certainty for this.

“Yes, I fucking swear. I went back to the dorms and went to bed and that was it. You want to me to swear in fucking blood as well?”

There's no lie in Reid's voice, which is both a relief and a concern since other warlock would at least be a known quantity. But he's also a friend and Caleb needs his circle strong if the Darkling was truly sent by some outside enemy.

“All right, I believe you. I'm sorry,” the teen says, holding out a hand to forestall any more arguing. He'd been having such a good time with Chase that he'd managed to put the Darkling from his mind for a few hours, but he can't afford to ignore it anymore. “Look, why don't you just go home and we'll all talk tomorrow. There's more to this than you know.”

“Fine,” Reid growls before collecting Tyler and stalking back into the bar to grab his things. Caleb just watches him go, trying to ignore the sick feeling in his gut.

“Well, that could have gone better,” Pogue says dryly, Caleb whirling around to glare at him.

“Don't you start! There was no point in trying to be tactful when Reid never fucking listens to me anyway and I had to be sure he hadn't crossed that line. Let him rant and rave tonight; he'll come back soon enough. I just wish I knew what was going on.”

“It's probably nothing,” Pogue replies with a shrug. “I could have been wrong about the Darkling being sent. Maybe some stray magic latched onto the dead kid, giving his ghost enough juice to seek you out. He probably just went for you because you have the most power and he'll dissipate soon if he’s not already gone. You've always been too much of a worrier.”

“Maybe I am. But the three of you don't worry near enough,” Caleb retorts before running a hand through his hair with a sigh. “You might as well go back inside. We can't talk to Reid until he cools off and there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy your evening. I think I'm going to stay out here a bit. I could use the air.”

“All right; if you're sure,” Pogue agrees, the thought of spending time with Kate overcoming whatever misgivings he still has. “Should I tell them to meet us in the spell chamber tomorrow? Three pm?”

“That sounds fine. I'll see you then.”

Pogue nods once before leaving Caleb to his thoughts, not that the warlock really gets much thinking done. His mind just keeps running in circles, wondering whether Pogue is right about the Darkling or there's another User out there; wondering what he's going to do about Chase and his mother and his fucking life.

“Is everything okay?”

Caleb isn't sure how long he's been sitting there. Long enough for Chase to come looking for him anyway. The other boy kneels down next to him, his expression more uncertain than Caleb's seen before.

“I brought your coat,” Chase says softly. “I thought you might be getting cold. Pogue said he wasn't sure how long you were planning on staying out here, but he's going to head back with Kate and Sarah soon.... Should I ask them for a ride? It's all right if you're not up for it.”

“What? No. No, I can take you home,” Caleb replies. “I'm sorry; this was supposed to be a fun evening and it kind of got derailed.”

“Don't worry about it. Family is family,” Chase tells him with a shrug, all smiles now that he knows Caleb isn’t freaking out because of him. “Although, I think if I'd beaten Pogue at Foosball one more time, he might have punched me out. So are you ready to go? I don't mind sitting around on a nice evening, but my ass is going numb.”

He nudges Caleb's shoulder, his chuckle helping to put a grin back on the warlock's face. After all, didn't he just decide that he was going to enjoy his life, whatever trials came his way?

So Caleb lets Chase pull him to his feet and tug him back into Nicky's, their hands fitting together easily. Though the teen lets go as soon as they're inside, still not brave enough to hold hands openly. Instead he leaves Chase to grab his own coat while he says goodnight to Pogue.

“Tomorrow. Don't forget,” the warlock reminds his friend before collecting Chase and heading to his car.

The other boy is oddly quiet on the drive, quiet enough that Caleb starts to wonder if he managed to pass on his dark mood somehow. But the warlock doesn't know Chase well enough to ask now that their easy camaraderie has faded; maybe a night with Caleb's friends made the other teen decide he wasn't worth it and if that's the case, Caleb would rather not know the truth just yet. So he doesn’t try to break the silence, only speaking once he's pulled up to the dorms again.

“Well, we're here,” Caleb says quietly, reaching out to touch Chase's shoulder. The other teen is slumped against the window and he doesn’t seem to realize that they've stopped until Caleb shakes his arm.

“Are you oka-?”

“Do you want to come in? Just for a bit?”

Chase interrupts the warlock’s question with a question of his own, one that the warlock was definitely not expecting him to ask. While it's a damn sight better than rejection, he doesn't think Chase actually means it as an invitation, at least not the kind in Caleb’s fantasies. Not when the other boy's expression still seems more pained than anything.

“You know the guy they found in the Dells? The one who overdosed?” Chase continues softly, not meeting Caleb’s eyes. “He was my roommate. I mean, I didn't know him very well since I just got here, but he seemed nice enough. While I knew he'd disappeared after giving me a ride to the Bonfire, I figured he'd just found a girl and ditched me so I didn’t bother telling anyone. But then I saw today’s paper on our way out of Nicky's and I recognized his face. I guess I should have charged my phone last night; I probably have a dozen calls from the police wanting to go through all his stuff.”

Chase laughs bitterly, hunching back against the car door and wrapping his arms around his waist. He looks utterly dejected and all Caleb wants to do is cheer him up again. So the teen finds himself accepting the invitation, moving his car to a better spot before following Chase inside.

There are still a few students in the hallways despite the time and the two of them garner a few curious glances since Caleb rarely shows his face in the dorms. Why would he when Pogue lives at home with his mother and even when Reid's not being a total asshole, the warlock doesn't have much reason to hang out with him alone?

But even though the staring would usually make him a bit uncomfortable, tonight Caleb just ignores it. His focus is on Chase instead. He may not be exactly sure how he can help but if Chase finds his presence comforting then he’s happy to oblige.

“Thank you for this,” Chase says once they're safely ensconced in his room. “I know we've just met and you don't owe me anything, but I really don't want to be alone right now.”

“I don't blame you,” Caleb is quick to reassure him. “I wouldn't want to be alone in your place either and it's not like I have somewhere else to be. I can stick around 'til you feel comfortable. So... how do you want to pass the time? I don't suppose you have a chess board around here anywhere.”

The room is actually rather empty. One side looks like a picture in a prep school catalog aside from a few scattered clothes and posters on the wall – probably the roommate’s – and most of Chase's stuff hasn't been unpacked. There's half a dozen boxes shoved into the corner and another on his desk, though the bed at least is clear. Caleb sits down on the mattress after hanging his coat up since books are also piled on both chairs. While he knows where he'd like this night to go – what can he say, he’s horny? – the teen isn’t going to pressure Chase when he’s just had a shock. This is the moment to be a friend and nothing more.

But then Chase sits down next to him and when Caleb sees the expression on the other boy’s face, his thoughts derail. He only has time for a single breath of anticipation and then he’s tumbling back onto the bed as Chase kisses him fervently.

“Mmph,” Caleb squeaks, though his surprise doesn't stop him from wrapping his arms around the other boy’s waist. If this is what Chase wants then Caleb has no intention of denying him, not when Chase's lips are so very soft. The other teen is plastered against his chest, one hand tangled in the warlock's hair while the other sneaks under Caleb's shirt. Chase pinches his nipple, taking advantage of Caleb's gasp to claim his mouth. Their tongues tangle together even as Chase grinds down, heat pooling in Caleb's groin when he feels the other boy's cock rub against his own.

All he can do is moan, hands clutching at Chase's shoulders desperately. There's nothing slow or gentle about this encounter and Caleb can’t seem to catch his breath. At least Chase obviously knows exactly what he's doing, burying his face in Caleb's neck and leaving a trail of burning kisses on his skin.

The teen isn't going to last much longer if Chase keeps rolling his hips like that, the friction driving him to a fever pitch. But when he gasps a warning against the other boy's mouth, Chase just lets out a growl and kisses Caleb harder. He silences Caleb's moans with lips and teeth and tongue, rocking into him until the warlock can't hold back anymore.

“Fuck, Chase!” he cries, head slamming into the mattress when he comes. When his vision clears, Chase is still rubbing against him, rough and frantic as he pants into Caleb's neck. A few more thrusts and then he comes as well, his entire body shaking almost violently.

Chase slumps onto Caleb's chest, a heavy weight that should be more annoying than it is. But even though his boxers are quickly turning cold and sticky and Chase's knee is digging into his leg, the warlock finds himself grinning idiotically. Because that was fucking amazing. So much better than jacking himself off has ever been.

So Caleb just wraps his arms around Chase and allows himself to enjoy the moment while it lasts. And you know what, I think I’m done caring what anybody says. I’m gay and pretending isn’t gonna change that. If it could then I would be straight already and I’ve wasted too much time with masks.

The warlock is going to do exactly what he wants from this point on. For once in his life, he's going to be selfish instead of self-sacrificing. He and Chase may end up as nothing more than a high school fling but the other teen is here now and that's enough. That's enough to make the risk worthwhile in his eyes.

Which means I'm gonna have to tell them, Caleb thinks with a hint of apprehension. The thought of his mother's reaction still terrifies him, but it's not as terrifying as spending the rest of his life hiding who he really is. When the teen didn't know what he was missing, that was one thing, but now that he's tasted real temptation, Caleb can't go back again.

“Sorry to jump you like that,” Chase murmurs softly, drawing the warlock from his thoughts. The other boy sits up, Caleb's hand sliding off his back reluctantly. “I know I said that we should wait for the second date but I didn't want to think and you're the hottest thing I've ever seen.”

“Do I look like I'm complaining?” Caleb replies with a smile, his cheeks warming at the compliment. He knows he's hot enough but Chase takes it to a whole different level. Put together, he was gorgeous; flushed and rumpled with desire, Caleb is finding it difficult to breathe. However, the warlock isn't crazy enough to question his good luck so he just makes a face instead. “I will say that my pants are kind of gross at the moment, but other than that, life’s pretty great right now.”

“Good. Glad to know I rocked your world,” Chase says with a throaty chuckle, leaning down to give Caleb one more filthy kiss before climbing off the bed. “I'd ask you to join me in the shower, but that's probably a bad idea if you're still closeted. Same with staying over, though you're welcome if you want.”

It takes Caleb a second to answer, his thoughts derailed by the image of Chase wet and naked in his arms.

“That is... very, very tempting,” he manages eventually. “But I don't think I'm ready for the walk of shame just yet.”

Thankfully, Chase doesn't seem annoyed by the rejection. The other boy must have expected Caleb's answer – or something similar – since he just shrugs and says, “Another time then. I'm not much into exhibition anyway.”

Chase hands Caleb his coat and helps the warlock put himself back together, straightening his clothes and hair so that what they've been doing isn't too obvious. Once Chase declares him good enough to pass a cursory inspection, the other boy opens his door to see if anyone’s outside. Caleb is almost hoping for a reason to stay longer, but Chase says the coast is clear. So he slips out into the hallway, kissing Chase one more time on his way out of the door. If one kiss quickly turns into two and three and ten, it's hardly Caleb's fault.

Eventually the warlock manages to pull himself away, murmuring his farewell into Chase's mouth. Caleb keeps sneaking glances back at the other boy's door until he reaches the end of the hallway and it's probably for the best that Chase doesn't reappear. The teen doesn't know if he'd have the strength to leave a second time.

Caleb reaches the exit without seeing anyone, climbing into his car and then peeling out of the parking lot. He drives quickly, probably too quickly, but there's no one else on the road this late at night and his pants really are uncomfortable. Sure the warlock could Use them clean, but there's not much point when he won't be wearing them much longer, and that isn't a habit Caleb wants to start. If anything, his newfound decision to enjoy his life has only made him more determined to avoid an addiction to the power since he wants as many years as he can get. His father and those like him certainly aren't living the good life anymore.

When the warlock gets home, the entire house is dark so his mother must have decided not to wait up for him this time. Maybe because she knows that he always gets back late on Saturdays. Whatever the reason, Caleb is happy not to see her since he’s in much too good of a mood to deal with her right now.

So the teen sneaks up the stairs and into the bathroom, peeling off his sticky clothes with a sigh of relief. He tosses his clothes into the hamper and then climbs into the shower to wash off the evidence. However, while Caleb meant to make it quick, he finds his thoughts turning back to Chase again. The teen can't help wondering if the other boy is also in the shower now, water running across his skin. He can't help wondering if Chase is thinking about him, about kissing and touching and fucking and everything they could have done if Caleb stayed.

The teen is hard in seconds, his cock aching at the image of Chase down on his knees. So Caleb leans back against the shower wall and closes his eyes, losing himself in this fantasy. He starts stroking his cock slowly, imagining Chase's mouth stretched wide around his dick, lips shining and slick with spit.

The other boy would swallow him down easily, teasingly, staring up at him with heated eyes. He would be hungry for it, letting Caleb fuck his mouth and moaning like he had tonight. Caleb could grab his hair and bury his cock deep, pushing until Chase couldn't possibly take anymore. But he would; he'd suck and lick and swallow until the warlock was on the edge of coming and then he'd slip a finger into Caleb's ass.

The teen puts thought to action, teasing along his crack even as he imagines it's Chase's hand instead. Chase's fingers are longer than his; they'd be able to touch the spot that Caleb can barely reach. He pushes deeper, his entrance burning slightly at the unfamiliar stretch.

Caleb doesn't do this often; as good as it feels, it's always seemed a little weird. But not tonight; tonight he can't imagine wanting anything more than he wants Chase to fuck him until he can’t see straight. So the warlock spreads his legs wider and twists his finger until he grazes the edge of his prostate, electricity singing underneath his skin. He teases that spot even as he continues stroking himself, his hips thrusting back and forth helplessly.

Soon his legs are shaking, the walls of the shower echoing with his panted moans. But it's not the physical stimulation that sends Caleb over the edge; it's the thought of Chase pressing him back against the wall and kissing him with lips rubbed scarlet and obscene. It's the thought of Chase fucking into him, of being stretched wide and open and vulnerable until his mask shatters and only truth remains.

The warlock comes then, spilling into his hand with a groan. He slumps back against the wall of the shower, sliding down slowly when his knees give out. Caleb sits there on the floor of the tub until he’s recovered enough to stand. Then he finishes showering and returns to his room, pulling on a new pair of boxers before climbing into bed. He falls asleep quickly and he doesn't dream at all.

Caleb wakes refreshed, half the morning already gone when he looks at the clock. If there is another warlock in Ipswich, he didn't Use last night – or at least not strongly enough for Caleb to wake up. Most spells don't draw enough power for the teen to feel them unless the caster is nearby so he's definitely not ready to drop his guard just yet.

However, Caleb will have a much better chance of finding the interloper – assuming there really is one – with the help of his coven and he still has several hours before it's time to meet. So the teen spends that time avoiding his mother and catching up on all the homework that he ignored yesterday.

Although Spenser Academy hasn't even had a full week of classes, every teacher seems to have decided that their students don't deserve free time and Caleb barely manages to finish the last of his reading before it's time to go. Thankfully the warlock doesn't need to go far since the spell chamber is situated on his family's property.

One of his ancestors built a storage shed over the entrance to keep out wandering eyes, every member of the Covenant given a key to the building when he turns thirteen. Indeed, when Caleb opens the hidden trapdoor and descends into the spell chamber, he finds that he's not the first one to arrive.

Reid and Tyler are there already, the blond looking irritated but not nearly as angry as he did last night. Hopefully that means he's ready to listen to Caleb's explanation, though the warlock holds off until Pogue arrives. Once their circle is complete, a spoken word seals the building, ancient protections snapping into place.

“So what is this about?” Reid asks as soon as the spell settles. “I still want to know why you freaked out on me last night.”

Although freaked out isn't the phrase Caleb would have used, arguing about terminology isn't worth it, not when the blond is clearly itching for another fight. So the warlock brushes aside his flash of irritation and explains instead.

“I saw a Darkling yesterday,” he says bluntly. “It appeared while I was driving into town and I nearly ran headfirst into a semi.”

“Holy shit,” Reid whispers, the words summing up the reaction of the other two as well. “And you thought I sent it?”

“No,” Caleb denies, though there was a moment when he had. “I was pretty sure you'd never go as far as that. And Pogue thinks the Darkling could have been a coincidence, the ghost's pain drawing him to the nearest source of power he could find. But I felt someone Using the night before. Strong enough to wake me from a dead sleep and I had to make sure that wasn't you.”

“Because if it wasn't then we might have another warlock in our town,” Reid concludes for Caleb, his tone serious. The blond has always had a knack for strategy when he's not too busy being a reckless asshole instead of thinking like he should. “I almost wish it had been, but I went to sleep as soon as we got back to the dorms and I didn't feel anything.”

“Me neither,” Tyler adds from the other side of their circle.

“That doesn't mean anything; you know Caleb is more sensitive than the rest of us right now. And while the Darkling could have been coincidence, the timing worries me.”

“So what do you think we should do?” Caleb asks, opening the floor to suggestions. He may be the oldest but that doesn't mean the others have to obey him if they disagree. “If there is another warlock, we can't let him run free in Ipswich. Our laws exist for a reason and I won't let an outsider jeopardize everything.”

“Agreed. You might just be seeing things because of your Ascension, but it seems dumb to bank on it,” Reid replies. “I'd rather go looking for something that isn't there then be blindsided by the sort of asshole who would bind a Darkling into life.”

“Then we should look for him,” Tyler says. “We need more information before we can make a plan.”

“True enough, baby boy. You have a spell in mind?”

“Well, divination is usually done for objects, but I'm pretty sure we could adapt the focus to find someone instead.”

If Tyler thinks so then he's probably right. He's always been more interested in the history and traditions of their power than the rest of them, researching the older methods while the other three muddle along with instinct and will instead. Although, in their defense, Tyler believes that each generation has been getting stronger since the current Sons of Ipswich are able to do with a thought what the first warlocks required rituals for.

Indeed, after coming into their powers, there's only one spell that the four of them cast regularly. They do that ritual every winter when it's time to renew the protections that keep Ipswich prosperous. Those protections have hundreds of years of tradition giving them strength and power and even Reid isn't crazy enough to shape that much magic without some sort of guide. The power would probably destroy them if they'd tried.

But even though the Sons of Ipswich generally get on just fine without the trappings of their ancestors, Caleb is happy to let Tyler give them a spell this time. None of them have ever tried to find a person by Using and it's always easier to shape the magic when there's a map in place.

So he lifts the Book of Shadows from its pedestal with a touch of power, the book too old and protected to touch with his bare hands. Caleb lays it in the center of their circle before passing the Use to Tyler, the other warlock searching until he finds the page he wants. Thankfully divination is one of the more basic spells so there are only a few components – some rituals require a dozen different herbs and sacrifice.

“We can start with the map to narrow it down,” Tyler says, moving the Book of Shadows over so that he can lay an old map of the town out flat. “Once we know the general area, you'll want to switch to the scrying bowl so we can see the warlock's face.”

Tyler hands Caleb a clear crystal on a chain and the teen is reminded of the other reason that none of them do spells when he looks down at the girly necklace in his hands. However, there's no one here to see him look like an idiot except his friends and finding their interloper is more important than feeling ridiculous. So he listens closely as Tyler explains how to change the incantation, fixing the other warlock's words into his mind.

Once he has it down, the Sons of Ipswich take their places in a ring around the map. Caleb lets the crystal hang above the paper, close but not quite touching, and then speaks the incantation carefully. With each word, power builds within the room and as soon as he finishes, the crystal starts to circle over Ipswich on the map.

The warlock keeps his mind carefully blank, asking but not anticipating the answer to his question while his friends hold the matrix of the spell, and soon the crystal's movement starts to slow. It pulls against Caleb's hand, the chain sliding through his fingers until the crystal slams down on the map like it's magnetized. He holds the spell for one beat longer just to be certain and then lets it go, putting his finger down on the map to mark the crystal's spot.

“That's Spenser Academy,” Tyler exclaims when Caleb lifts his hand, a frisson of shock running through their group. “What would our warlock be doing there?”

“Maybe they're hunting the competition,” Reid growls darkly, before Caleb quells him with a glance.

“Don't jump to any conclusions. Plenty of people go through those buildings every day and even if the warlock is a student, that doesn't mean they know about our Covenant. If they've just come into their powers, the Use I felt could have been an accident.”

“I suppose that's true,” Pogue agrees. “So, Tyler, what was step two again?”

Step two is a scrying bowl filled with water and another incantation, the four warlocks crowding in together so that all of them can see. At first the water is foggy as the spell seeks out its target within the parameters that Caleb's words defined. If they hadn't narrowed the search down with the map, this part might have taken hours, but as it is, it's only a few minutes before the water clears.

“Those are the senior dorms,” Pogue mutters when a picture appears within the water, the warlocks staring down at a building from above. Even as he speaks, the image begins to move toward the dorms, passing through the roof and into the upper hall.

“Can't you move this thing any faster,” Reid grumbles as the spell takes them slowly through the corridor, pausing at each person walking by.

Caleb ignores the blond with the skill of long practice, his focus on the keeping the spell alive. Although the warlock's incantation shaped the magic for him, he still has to power it and keep the image of his goal in mind.

While this would be much easier if Caleb knew who he was looking for, “someone with power” seems to be working well enough. Indeed, it feels as though the spell is scanning each person it encounters like some sort of x-ray before moving on. It's slow but thorough until suddenly it's not. Between one second and the next, the image in Caleb's bowl flickers into darkness and then reappears inside a dorm room where two people are sitting on the bed. One of them is glowing, a swirl of power so bright that it's impossible to see any details of the room at all.

“Fucking hell!” Caleb hears the shocked whisper distantly, all of his focus on trying to see this other warlock's face. It's difficult to change a spell once it's been cast but the teen bends his will around the power and slowly that blinding light begins to dim. Slowly Caleb begins to see the shadow of features, both strange and somehow familiar, and he can almost make them out when the other warlock suddenly looks up. That glowing face stares right at him, its eyes shining black where light had been.

Caleb barely manages to throw up his arm before the scrying bowl explodes in a sudden rush of magic, his own spell splintering beneath the other's strength. He falls over backwards like someone shoved him, landing heavily on the stone floor of the chamber even as fireworks burst behind his eyes.

The teen lays there panting for a second, the aimless power of his broken spell screaming through the room before he manages to tame it down again. The magic leaves behind a vicious headache and a sick feeling in his stomach, the warlock fighting back the urge to puke when Pogue pulls him upright with a shout.

“What the hell happened?” his friend demands. “Are you all right?”

“He felt me scrying somehow,” Caleb says. “Shut me out and broke the spell. I don't think it was skill, just raw power; I've never felt anyone as strong as that before. Strong and angry once he realized I was there. Though I don't think the explosion was intentional; it was just the magic snapping back.”

“Well, shit,” Reid curses. “I guess he knows we're here now if he didn't know before. And if he's stronger than Caleb then we're fucked.”

“Not necessarily,” Tyler replies. “If he's got power without skill, we may still have the advantage. Any idea who this guy could be?”

“Well. We know he's a student and a senior. He has to be new or we would've noticed something before now. Honestly, I don't understand how Caleb is still the only one who's felt him if he's that powerful.”

“Maybe he's hiding” Tyler offers. “With enough power or the right spell, he could block our sense of him. We only found him now because we looked and I doubt we'd have any luck if we tried again.”

“He must be blocking us. I sleep in those dorms every night and I haven't felt a thing,” Reid says with a grimace. “I really don't like the idea of sleeping with that guy around.”

“So we find him before he can do anything. There can't be that many new students who transferred in this year.”

“There are a couple juniors from New Jersey but the only senior I can think of is that Chase guy.”

“He did seek us out at the Bonfire so he could be trying to get into our group and find our weaknesses. I haven't noticed anything weird about him but if the warlock can hide his power, that doesn't rule him out.”

“What?! No! It can’t be Chase!” Caleb exclaims. The teen had been content to let his friends talk around him while he nursed his headache, but he can't let this accusation stand. There's no way that Chase is their warlock. He's too damn nice for one thing; the power that Caleb felt tonight wasn't nice at all.

“Why not?” Reid demands. “I know you were all buddy buddy with him at Nicky's but he's the only one who fits.”

Because I'm pretty sure I would have noticed when he kissed me, Caleb thinks with an edge of hysteria. He can't say that. His friends would probably assume that Chase brainwashed him somehow and he really doesn't want his boyfriend exorcised.

In their defense, magic would explain the strength of his attraction and his sudden willingness to throw away years of hiding for a pretty face. But Caleb just can't believe it. Even if Chase somehow managed to go an entire day without slipping, he shouldn't have been able to hide his power when Caleb got him off. No one can hold a spell through an orgasm; Caleb tried it once and nearly burned down his house.

Which, again, is not something he can tell his friends and the teen's panic grows as the silence drags on and on. Until, finally, he thinks of something that he can use instead.

“He doesn't have a roommate,” Caleb says triumphantly. “The person I saw definitely had a roommate in their dorm.”

“Lucky bastard,” Reid mutters before offering his own counter to Caleb's point. “The other person could have been visiting. Or he could have been in someone else's room.”

“By that logic, our warlock could be anyone,” Caleb retorts. “Lots of students have visitors.”

“Fine. Maybe it isn't Chase,” Pogue relents. “But we should still keep an eye on him just in case. Him and any other student who transferred in this year.”

“Fair enough,” Caleb agrees, relaxing now that the immediate danger to his boyfriend has passed. “If we can't scry the warlock then we'll need to catch him Using in order to be sure. I don't want anyone going off half-cocked. The power I felt isn't something we can handle without preparation and hopefully we still have the element of surprise. Just because this warlock felt my scrying doesn't mean he knows who it was and if we keep from Using, maybe we can hide as well.”

None of the others are happy about his suggestion, particularly Reid, but they can't fault Caleb's logic and the display of power on the strange warlock's part has all of them cautious now. It's hard to deny the danger when the remnants of their scrying bowl are melted to the floor.

With that decided, the rest of the plan comes together quickly. The four of them will watch for anything strange while trying to act normal so the other warlock doesn’t get suspicious before they find out who he is. The interloper may be able to hide from their awareness, but he shouldn't be able to hide the effects of his magic or the black of Using in his eyes. Meanwhile, Tyler will look through the assorted spell books in the chamber and see if he can find a way to bypass the other warlock's barrier. All the power in the world won't help him with the right spell on Caleb's side.

The Sons of Ipswich can’t do anything else until they have real proof of the stranger’s ill intentions – their laws don’t allow curses or other offensive spells without good reason and a sense of violent magic doesn’t count.

Besides, I don't want to be a teenage murderer. Caleb will try to kill this other warlock if he has to – should threat be proved, the Covenant demands it – but he'd much rather deal with him peacefully instead.

So the Sons of Ipswich continue with their normal lives even as they observe the other students at Spenser Academy with a new wariness. But it’s difficult to test those students with whom they don’t share classes and while Caleb feels the strange warlock Use periodically, no one manages to catch him in the act. Even Using doesn’t help because none of the tracking spells that Tyler finds can break through the other warlock’s barrier.

After a few weeks of paranoia turn up nothing, Caleb’s friends begin to lose their caution and the teen can’t really blame them for their complacency. The interloper hasn’t done anything aggressive since they tried to scry him and even the Darkling could still just have been coincidence.

However, Caleb finds it difficult to relax, the warlock haunted by a nagging feeling that the stranger isn’t finished yet. But that could also be a side effect of his Ascension since Caleb’s birthday is coming much too fast for his peace of mind.

On the bright side, his friends’ suspicions give Caleb the perfect excuse to spend more time with Chase; one that he takes full advantage of. The two of them hang out for hours: talking, studying, and watching movies that they never see the end of because they’re too busy making out. Nearly every moment that isn’t given over to school, homework, or coven business is spent with Chase instead and Caleb is getting very good at sneaking out of the other boy's dorm room without anyone noticing.

Chase’s room has quickly become one of Caleb’s favorite places in the world, hard and uncomfortable though the bed may be. That's where Chase introduces him to the wonder that is blow jobs – the reality even better than the warlock’s fantasies – along with kissing, groping, hand jobs and several things that he has to go and look up on the internet.

The teen is making up for years of celibacy with a vengeance and his secret boyfriend is only too happy to show him everything. While Caleb hasn’t quite worked up the nerve for penetration – though he fully intends to try it at least once before they’re done – Chase hasn’t rushed him, seemingly content to broaden his horizons in other areas instead.

He hasn’t even tried to make Caleb come out of the closet, though his face does twist a little whenever the warlock makes excuses to his friends. There’s only so many times they can “study” or “play Foosball” before it gets ridiculous.

Honestly, the teen’s not sure why he hasn’t told his friends the truth; somehow his determination always seems to fail at the crucial moment and he ends up talking about something else instead. The worst part of it is that Caleb doesn’t really think that his friends would reject him – not like his mother probably will; he just doesn’t want to be looked at differently. The teen is afraid of awkwardness and that’s the truth, no matter how cowardly it sounds.

When he finally does tell them, Caleb doesn’t think courage is going to be his motivation; it’s going to be a mix of lust and jealousy. The teen wants everyone to know that Chase is his; he wants to be able to kiss him in the hallway instead of waiting until they’re alone again.

The closest that the warlock has come to breaking is in the locker rooms after swimming class in gym since watching his boyfriend walk around half naked is more temptation than anyone should be expected to resist. All he wants to do is shove that long, lean swimmer’s body against a locker and kiss him ‘til it hurts.

At least that would be a fun way to come out, Caleb thinks, watching a few drops of water slide down Chase’s chest. Stake my claim, scratch that itch, and pronounce myself unavailable all at the same time. There may not be that many people here to see it but gossip like that would be all over the school by Monday morning guaranteed.

It really is tempting, particularly since the teen is running out of polite methods for brushing Sarah off. Caleb doesn't want to be cruel since she's still Kate's roommate and that would be awkward, but the girl refuses to leave him alone.

Ever since the Bonfire, Sarah has been acting like the two of them are meant to be together and he's starting to wonder if even admitting that he’s gay would shake her off. She seems just as likely to decide that she's the perfect girl to fix him; her blond something something and womanly charms bringing him back to the right path again.

Like she could ever match up to that. Before meeting Chase, Caleb might have let Sarah keep her delusions; she's certainly the sort of girl who would make his mother proud. But even if his relationship is still a secret, the warlock has no intention of giving up his boyfriend for a pretense of normality. That ship has sailed even though Caleb's fears don't quite believe it; he'll get there eventually. And when he does, Chase is going to be standing at his side.

“Hey! What are you looking at?!”

Caleb looks up at the shout to see Aaron Abbott glaring at his boyfriend, the other teen's expression murderous. Aaron still hasn't forgiven Chase for insulting him at the Bonfire; that may have been weeks ago but he knows how to hold a grudge.

However, before the warlock can move to help Chase – and really, what is Aaron thinking to make his challenge here? Even if I weren't around, my friends would never let this stand. Hell, Reid may not like Chase much but he would probably help an enemy if it meant taking Aaron down. – Chase helps himself instead.

The other boy leans in and whispers something that makes Aaron's face go purple, the teen charging forward with a roar. But Chase just ducks his wild punch and slams an elbow into Aaron's sternum hard. He crumples gasping; the fight over just like that.

Chase waits a beat to see if Aaron is going to get up before turning to Caleb and raising one eyebrow as though to ask, “What was that about?”

The smirk on his face sends all of Caleb's blood rushing south, what little wasn't there already after watching his boyfriend fight. Thankfully the warlock's friends are too busy congratulating Chase to notice his distraction and by the time the other boy reaches Caleb, he has himself under control. By which the teen means his knees are shaky, his pants are tight, and he wants to rip the clothes from Chase's body – but he's not doing it. So business as usual, more or less.

“Good job, man,” Caleb says, greeting Chase with a fist bump and a grin.

“You want to play some “Foosball” later?” Chase asks, the quotations coming through loud and clear. Honestly, the teen is almost ashamed that his friends haven't figured out what's really going on at this point; he hadn't thought they were that oblivious. But maybe they just can't see past their own expectations to the truth before their eyes. Of course, sometimes Caleb and Chase actually do play Foosball but that's not what the warlock has in mind tonight.

Swimming is the last class of the day and practice hasn't started so neither of them have any other obligations; sure there's always homework but it's Friday and Caleb's grades are good enough for him to spare a few hours now. A few hours that he intends to spend as naked as possible.

So Caleb and Chase finish dressing quickly, sidelong glances crackling with heat. Then the warlock says a hurried goodbye to the other Sons of Ipswich and follows Chase back to his dorm room, ostensibly to pick up his wallet for an evening out.

However, as soon as the door shuts behind him, Caleb is shoving his boyfriend toward the bed. He drops to his knees in front of Chase, hands scrabbling at the fly of the other’s jeans. The warlock needs Chase's dick in his mouth right now.

Caleb never imagined that he would love sucking cock before he tried it, but he really, really does. He loves the way the other teen groans when Caleb takes him in his mouth; the way that his thighs tremble and fall open helplessly. The only thing he hated was the taste of latex and they did away with that as soon as Chase tested clean – Caleb might be a virgin but apparently his boyfriend had been something of a slut when he was younger and he’d wanted to be sure – so now there’s nothing but a heady musk underneath his tongue.

The warlock bobs his head, taking Chase deeper as one of the other boy’s hands tangles in his hair, pulling just hard enough to make its presence known. Chase’s other hand is muffling his moans, only a few broken sounds escaping from his mouth.

Every soft whimper goes straight to Caleb's dick, his pants growing almost painful as he swallows around Chase, taking him as deep as he can before pulling back again. The teen isn't practiced enough to deep throat his boyfriend without choking, but he makes up the difference with his fingers well enough. Chase definitely isn’t complaining when Caleb wraps one hand around his cock and strokes him in counterpoint to the bobbing of his head. The other boy just groans louder, fingers flexing in the Caleb's hair.

Chase’s dick is leaking now, thick bursts of pre-cum filling the warlock’s mouth. The taste is bitter but not unpleasant when he swallows, Caleb chasing a few stray droplets with his tongue. Then he wraps his lips around the head of his boyfriend's cock and sucks until Chase is shaking under him.

Caleb could almost come from this; he could almost come just from the noises Chase is making and the look of pleasure on his face. Even the ache in his jaw just makes everything seem sharper when the teen hums around Chase’s dick, the other boy falling back onto the bed with a muffled cry. He's so close – they both are – and Caleb finally sticks one hand down his pants to pull his own dick out. The teen strokes himself and Chase to the same rhythm but his boyfriend shatters first.

Chase arches off the bed, a loud curse slipping from between his fingers as he comes in the warlock's mouth. The hand in Caleb's hair tightens, holding him still while Chase's hips thrust helplessly. Although the teen could pull away, he swallows instead, jacking himself faster as Chase's cock slides across his lips. Caleb only pulls off when he starts coming, not wanting to bite down by accident.

“Fuck!” the warlock groans as his mind whites out with bliss and he spills into his hand. When Caleb comes back to himself, he's leaning heavily against Chase's leg. It takes him a second to lift his head, the warlock slumping back on his heels to meet his boyfriend’s smirk. The other teen looks supremely self-satisfied and Caleb can hardly blame him considering how hard he just came from sucking Chase’s cock.

“So what was that for, babe?” Chase asks with a lazy grin. “Whatever it is, I'll do it as often as you like.”

“Good to know,” Caleb laughs. “But I’m afraid it wasn’t for anything in particular. Don’t you know that I want to jump you constantly?”

The teen pushes himself to his feet, heading into the bathroom to wash his hands before flopping down on the bed next to Chase. “Although, I have to admit, seeing you kick Aaron’s ass didn’t hurt a bit.”

“Oh, really? Does watching me punch people get you hot, Caleb?” Chase asks archly, rolling over to straddle the warlock's waist. “Should I start a fight club then? Me vs. the biggest douche-bags in Spenser Academy.”

“Hell, I’d probably pay to watch that,” Caleb says before poking the other boy in the side so that his response becomes a strangled laugh instead. Chase quickly replies in kind, the conversation devolving into an impromptu wrestling match slash strip tease, shirts and socks flying everywhere. Once Caleb has his boyfriend mostly naked, well then he has to kiss him again, and it’s almost three hours later before the warlock manages to pull himself away.

As much as he’d like to stay all evening, the teen promised his mother that he would come home for dinner and it's starting to get late. So the teen gathers his scattered clothing, Chase watching him from the bed shamelessly.

“Are you sure you have to go? I wouldn't mind another round.”

“Tempting, but no. I have to eat dinner with my mother and then I've got an essay due on Monday that I haven't even started yet,” Caleb replies, grabbing his tie off the lamp. He's not entirely sure how it got over there – probably one of Chase's more energetic bits of groping – but it seems to be unscathed.

So the warlock buttons up his shirt and then re-buttons when Chase's full body stretch makes him miss a hole. He shrugs on his jacket, fixes his tie, and takes a quick glance in the mirror to make sure he looks all right. Caleb can’t do much about the smell, of course, but no one should be getting close enough to notice before he gets home and he can jump in the shower then.

“All right; I'll see you later,” Caleb says, giving his boyfriend one more kiss before walking toward the door. He grabs the handle and has just started to pull it open when Chase speaks again.

“Call me when you finish your essay. We haven’t tried phone sex yet and you’ll probably need to chill by then.” The other teen’s voice is full of filthy promise and despite everything they've done together, Caleb finds himself blushing anyway.

“You are insatiable, you know that?” the warlock asks, trying and failing to sound like he’s annoyed. It comes out more fond than irritated and he knows he's smiling. “Keep this up and my grades are gonna tank. But if, by some miracle, I actually write a decent draft by midnight, I try and call you then.”

“Call me after; I don't care. All my homework's done.”

“Fuck you, you dick,” is the only possible response to that. Caleb flips the other boy off, scrounging in his pockets for ammunition and then chucking a pencil at his boyfriend’s smirking face. The missile whacks him right on the nose despite Caleb’s usually crappy aim, the teen ducking into the hall with a laugh when Chase starts to curse him out.

Caleb pulls the door shut behind him, cutting off the other boy's: “You know you love my d-” partway through.

However, when the warlock turns to go, he runs headlong into another student and the grin drops off his face instantly. Because it's Sarah, something ugly flashing in her eyes, and Caleb can’t help but worry about what she might have overheard. While the dorm walls are thick, they aren't completely soundproof and the teens hadn’t been all that quiet near the end.

“Oh, um. Hey, Sarah,” Caleb says awkwardly. “I didn't think your room was on this floor.”

“And I didn't think you had any reason to keep coming to the dorms,” Sarah retorts with a scowl. “Your friend Reid is on my floor and you never come to see him so why in the world would you be visiting Chase Collins for hours at a time?”

Every sentence drips with insinuation and while she hasn’t said anything outright, what she has said is enough to make panic rise in Caleb’s chest. Sarah knows – she definitely knows – and the warlock is shocked to silence by her the venom in her voice. All he can do is gape as Sarah spins on her heel and stalks off, disappearing down the stairwell in a flash.

For one brief second, the teen considers running after her and begging for her silence. He considers it and then he calls himself a fool.

Why should Caleb care if Sarah knows the truth? The worst thing she could do is tell everyone he’s gay and the warlock has been trying to say exactly that for weeks. So there’s no point in panicking when Sarah can’t actually hurt him with his secret – not unless she somehow gets his mother’s number – and to be honest, Caleb doesn’t know if the girl will even try.

They’ve had exactly five conversations since she moved here and for all the teen knows, she’d never dream of outing him. Maybe she’ll just drown her broken heart in ice cream and move on to someone else.

So Caleb tries to put Sarah out of his mind as he walks outside to his car. But the teen has just pulled his car keys from his pocket when there’s a noise behind him and he turns around to see Sarah standing there. Her face is blank, terrifyingly blank, and all of Caleb’s misgivings come rushing back again.

“Sar-”

Before Caleb can finish the word, Sarah’s eyes suddenly turn black, as black as ebony or the endless veil of space. And then the teen is kissing her. He’s kissing her in a parody of romance, one hand on her cheek and the other wrapped around her waist. Sarah’s nails dig into his shoulders as she shoves her tongue into his mouth and Caleb lets her even though the touch makes nausea roil in his gut.

The warlock should be protesting or shoving her off or doing something but instead he just stands frozen until she finally pulls away. It’s not shock that keeps him paralyzed, though he certainly is shocked. Caleb is bound with rings of magic – familiar magic; Sarah is the warlock that he's been searching for.

By the time she pulls away, Caleb’s heart is pounding with a mix of adrenaline and horror, the sheer force of Sarah's power taking his breath away. Her magic is stronger than he'd thought, that brief touch while scrying nothing compared to this oppressive weight, and he can hardly think beneath the fog of Sarah's rage.

But she doesn't say anything. She doesn't offer the warlock a challenge or make any threats. She just gives the teen a strange mocking smile before walking back into the building, his bonds releasing once she's out of sight.


Part III