The Ministry formally advises that all contact with muggles and their world be kept to a minimum. Muggles are an admittedly useless creature, far inferior to our abilities and knowledge. The Ministry advises those who have made it clear they are blood traitors are not to be reckoned with or kept informed of the goings on within our world as they have made their choice.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
6 June
10:56 pm
Ev's Apartment

Somehow Everett continued to surprise him, and for someone who had previously hated surprises, it was strange for Alasdair to be enjoying everything that was happening with the vampire. Alasdair had meant for this night to be a small, fun date for them. Admittedly, this may have been to also woo the vampire to soothe his own insecurities now that they were slowly making their relationship more substantial. It was hard… With his personal background. To trust Ev and build something healthy between them. Especially with Ev’s specific proclivities with his relationships. Specifically him wanting to continue to see other people as well as stay with Alasdair. Something the wizard was trying out and honestly was finding to be not as uncomfortable as he had initially believed. Though it was still a little weird to find the long black hairs tangled Ev’s clothes, he knew Ev had a female he saw though they did not seem to be partners so much as just a hook-up once in a while. Despite the tone that Everett got when talking about her. But that was neither here nor there for the wizard and that didn’t matter for tonight. Tonight was Alasdair’s secret celebration over their relationship.

Over the month that they had gotten together and been seeing each other with the intention of being more it had been going well, really well actually. So Alasdair wanted to do something special for his new partner. He had planned an entire night out for them. Most likely with everything he had planned for the evening, he had gone a bit overboard. Without telling the vampire anything other than to be ready by sunset, Alasdair had turned up in loose jeans, tee shirt, and jacket. And, boy, had Everett certainly been more than ready and delicious looking in those fade washed jeans and sweater that showed off all the best parts of his partner. Not to mention the slicked back hair of his so those blue eyes of his were easily seen and bright as the sky… Alasdair was pretty sure he had sworn in delight. And he was getting distracted and gaping in the doorway like a fool. He had to shake himself back to focus before moving inside to greet the vampire with a kiss and a gift. The wizard had shown up with a bonsai wisteria for Everett to help with his homesickness for New Orleans before sweeping him into the city for their date. From their previous discussions, Ev hadn’t had a chance to see much of London since he had moved here with his apprenticeship taking up most of his time and Alasdair was willing to risk a night out in the open to share an adventure with him.

They had gone to the city center to shop, Alasdair offering to buy whatever caught the vampire’s eye. In a little music shop window, Ev’s eye had caught a beautiful blue guitar and upon wandering inside the nice shop owner allowed Ev to perform a short private concert with it that had left Alasdair’s heart fluttering as he watched the older man. His heart didn’t stop fluttering for the rest of the night. Not through their ice cream before even having dinner and not when the excitement on Ev’s face peaked as they hit the top of the Eye for a slow ride. In fact, the metamorphmagus thought his heart might just stop with the searing kiss that his partner had given him from his joy at the view. Between the kiss and the city lights, Alasdair was certain he would either combust or melt. Luckily he managed to do neither though his hair had gone bright pink and took a few minutes before it would settle back to normal brunette colors.

To finish their night, they had calm walk back to Ev’s apartment had been disgustingly romantic with stolen kisses and hand holding that left Alasdair with joyous expression. With Ev’s joy and happiness, Alasdair was certain he had planned the perfect night. At least until they got back to Ev’s apartment, where the vampire suddenly surprised him with a candlelit dinner to top everything else. Premade lasagna, salad, and cheesy bread. It wasn’t a lavish meal by any stretch of the imagination but it was definitely them. Sitting at Ev’s tiny table, Alasdair blushed and laughed through Ev’s playful flirts matching him easily with a wide grin.

Alasdair volunteered to clean up the kitchen since Ev had surprised him, being intentionally quick and lazy by using magic to charm things into self cleaning so he could continue the night with his partner. A quick inspection of the apartment had him being jumped from behind and locked in the vampire’s arms with a shower of kisses to his face and throat before he was lured into a bath to finish their night, a little relaxation before they settled into bed. Not that their bath had been relaxing in the end. It had only served to get them both clean and even more riled up. Being carried to bed and covered protectively by someone else’s body was an odd sensation. Safe, warm, and something more. Definitely a feeling the wizard would happily get used to.

Soft brown eyes cracked with orange and pinks met the vampire’s with a serene smile. Words almost tumbled unbidden out of his mouth before he could remind himself that Everett and himself had been seeing each other for a month. Just a month. His attachment was probably more from loneliness and Ev’s unending kindness than actually catching feelings. At least that’s what he was going to go with. He stroked the older man’s cheek before pulling him into another slow kiss, tangling with him happily. Rolling over onto him, he kissed him again then down his throat to over his heart. He rubbed the tip of his nose against the spot happily before peeking up at him. Those same words tugged at his mind and tongue but Alasdair just smiled unaware as the color of his eyes faded into a deep burgundy color, his heart fluttering as he looked at him.

”Thank you. For tonight. It was really nice,” he finally managed with a small choke in his tone. He hugged Ev’s waist, laying across him to steal another slow kiss, losing his fingers in his hair.
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by: Everett Cooper
It was date night.

Date night. If someone had told Everett even a year ago that he would be in London, going on a surprise date with a guy he really liked a whole lot, and nervously fixing his hair before said date arrived, Ev would’ve told them they were insane.

Of course that had been before he had been made a vampire and his Navy career was over, which was a lot- well, most of- the reason he had had to hide his sexuality in the first place, but even still. The very idea of going on a date with someone was still a foreign concept to the American. Not at all a bad thing, at least so far, but definitely a new concept. His relationship history was varied and extremely short considering he was almost forty years old, most of his relationships having been mere flings with girls he had met while off combat rotation. And if he was being honest with himself, most of those few flings had been… on the unhealthy side of the spectrum at the very least. He hesitated to call any of them outright abusive because he was sure some of the fault was his own, but even still, relationships were a new endeavor for Everett.

Which lead him back to thinking about his new partner? Fuck buddy? Boyfriend seemed too… solid, too real for the slightly commitment-leary vampire, but he couldn’t deny that Alasdair was real special to him. He was kind, brilliant, handsome as hell, a real treasure that had brought a vibrant quality that he hadn’t realized was missing back into Ev’s life, even in the short time they had known each other. It was amazing to the soldier, in all honesty, that a guy he had only known for almost exactly a month had endeared himself to Ev so quickly and so thoroughly. Alasdair was… Hot damn, he didn’t even have the right words to describe the wizard. Maybe… maybe ‘boyfriend’ wasn’t wrong… After all, Alasdair had been understanding and communicative with him about taking things slowly in terms of their relationship, and had been open to a non-monogamous relationship to boot… And things had been going even better than Ev would ever have hoped between them. There had been no awkward jealousy when Alasdair had found some of the Nagual woman’s hair tangled on his shirt collar after the hunger-driven romp in the part, but maybe that was more to do with the fact that he had explained his… odd… encounter with the woman as more of an instinctive whirlwind than anything actually concrete.

Whatever the reason for the smoothness in their relationship, Ev was relaxed and happier than he could remember being in a good long time when he was with Alasdair. When the wizard had shown up at his door almost exactly at sundown tonight it had taken Everett nearly a full minute to even take notice of the gorgeous bonsai plant Alasdair had brought him, so happy to see his date was he. The lavender-colored wisteria bonsai was probably the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts anyone had ever given him, it occurred to him as he placed it on his kitchen table before Alasdair swept him out the door for their date. He hadn’t told Ev what he had had planned but that was just fine with the vampire; he had his own surprise planned for after they got back.

He couldn’t cook to save his life, but his apartment was right above a Mediterranean deli and restaurant that offered ready-to-bake trays of lasagna, ziti, and several other dishes that Ev didn’t recognize, so he had made a special request for a garlic-less meal and picked it up before getting ready for the date. There was a nice antipasto salad and a big lasagna waiting for them in the fridge, and Gino had even thrown in an order of cheesy bread instead of the customary garlic bread with the order. Ev couldn’t wait to surprise Alasdair after whatever it was the wizard had planned.

Speaking of what his date had planned… Got damn, did Alasdair hit a solid homerun with that one! A nice walk through the city center market district, where they had stumbled upon a mom-and-pop music shop with the newest model of Gibson collector’s edition in the window. With some sweet-talking the owner had agreed to let Ev play the baby-blue beauty while he finished up the closing procedures, and had ended up staying open a half hour later than planned just to listen to the vampire sing and play for Alasdair. After thanking the man and promising to come back for any music needs in the future, they had headed over toward the Thames and the fabled London Eye, taking a breathtaking ride up over the sprawling lights of the city together. It was just perfect; that was the only word Ev could come up with. Perfect. The view, the ice cream they had indulged in like little kids before their dinner, the company… There wasn’t one singular thing Everett would have changed about the date, becoming more and more at ease with the idea of things being more serious with his partner than he had thought as they stole kisses and held hands on their leisurely walk back to his apartment.

And then it was time for his own surprise date plans. Alasdair had been delighted by the surprise dinner and they had laughed and flirted and carried on like teenagers while they ate. It wasn’t a fancy meal, just some salad and pasta, but it was special because the person he was sharing it with was special to him, something the vampire had missed dearly being away from home. For dessert Ev had grinned like a mischievous little boy and led Alasdair into the bathroom where a bubble bath awaited them. He had decorated the room with the cliched candles on every surface he could fit them on but it did look romantic and pretty so he supposed it wasn’t quite the cliche he had thought. Of course the bath served only to rile them both up more once they settled in the water together, but in the aftermath of their bath Ev had carried Alasdair to his bed with a happy grin and reveled in the quiet joy between the two of them. It was new and exciting and maybe not as scary as he had first thought… And Alasdair certainly felt good snuggled up on his chest like that, smiling down at him with those big mahogany eyes.

“No, thank you, darlin’,” Ev countered, his voice still husky with lust and more than a bit tired. “Tonight was… shit, I can’t even tell ya how much I loved tonight. It was perfect. You’re perfect,” he whispered, kissing the wizard again tenderly.
Last edited by Everett Cooper on Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by: Matthew Cox
Wasn’t he the just the best friend...first, he was keeping secrets from one brother, then he was having a mental break down in his best friend, and now he was going to be interrupting a date for a third friend. Matt huddled in his armor in the fire escape, holding his backpack to his chest to keep the canvas from scraping against the metal. He’d listened to Ev and his boyfriend come home, have dinner, and then get into the bath all while sitting quietly on the fire escape.

How had he really come to this: lurking outside a man’s flat and eavesdropping on his intimate, safe moments?

Well, you see, it all started about a month ago when...

Right. Was that when it started? It had it started longer ago than that? Were there signs of his madness then? One didn’t suddenly develop an alternate personality, right? There had to have been other signs or symptoms that he was sick in the head. There wasn’t anything in his history that made him suspicious of himself. Nothing, that was, except the mutation. Could...could that have caused him to unhinge? Maybe the human mind wasn’t meant to absorb so much sensory input. Being a mutant was driving him crazy. That made sense, in a way, but was it right? If that was the mutation, then maybe the stress of the imperius is what finally just made him snap.

God help him, he missed Cora.

The thought of her made him shiver in his armor. He wanted to see her, wanted to love her, to hold her...

But what about the curse? She’d let him go, hadn’t come after him, had stayed away...but was that because she knew he’d come back? That he was conditioned to want her? To need her approval? Did he really love her or was this feeling in him just a need to fulfill a conditioned response? Everyone he’d gone to with the hopes of getting answers only knew a part of the story and sided with him. He wasn’t to blame, he wasn’t at fault, it was the witch and her magic and he was innocent...or conversely, he was a willing and active participant who was just as guilty as Cora, a traitor and anathema that needed to be killed. Nobody who made these judgements knew Cora. Nobody had seen them when things were good...

But Ev had. Everett was trusted. He was a fellow operator, someone who understood the trauma of changing from human to not-human, someone who had seen Matt and Cora just two days ago before the storm broke and inundated them. If anyone could give Matt a clearer perspective on what the truth was, then it had to be the vampire.

Matt listened to the impassioned and rhythmic sounds of two people who loved each other taking delight in the carnal fruits of a growing relationship. The mutant was beyond feeling embarrassed about such accidental eavesdropping. With his sensory capabilities, he’d heard more than he ever needed to in order to get over feeling embarrassed. Sex was an expression of love, more intimate than a kiss. It was nobody’s fault but his own that his super senses could invade that private intimacy.

Guilt now tangled with the still-raging chaos of emotions after Day-Zero. It wasn’t fair of him to put his needs for counseling ahead of his friend’s privacy and dignity. Not to mention, whomever Ev was with was likely not going to be happy with Everett for attracting such company as the Devil of London. It would be better to leave. Matt carefully shifted himself up and around to kneeling, then stood slowly to avoid making a noise. He was nearly home free when the shoes in his backpack squeaked together. For a human, the sound would have been small and difficult to detect in the open air, much less through a window, but Ev wasn’t human, and that sound shouldn’t have come from his fire escape.

Matt continued to move slowly as he slung his backpack over his shoulders. He listened to the vampire, knowing he was caught. All he could do now was confess himself and leave, maybe set an appointment for another time.
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by: Alasdair Bennett

If Alasdair could morph into a puddle he would. Ev called his date plans, called him, perfect. He blinked at the older man for a few moments, those traitorous words clawing at his throat again. The longer he laid on his partner’s chest just watching him and stroking his hair, the more he couldn’t help the smile. Or the fact that his gaze had gone a deep reddish-purple. Well just fuck him.

Dumb smile, fluttering heart, signs of mild anxiety and delight. For as much as it had just been a passing thought Alasdair was starting to believe there was more to his knee-jerk reaction. He might actually really love Everett. Even in the short time they had been together. But then how could he not? The Southern was a polite, respectful sweetheart who treated Alasdair with so much dignanty while making him feeling like royalty. If that was the case, which empirically was the most likely answer to his symptoms, then the wizard was doomed to try to prevent this from becoming very serious, very rapidly.

Or maybe he was just catching the flu and flying off the handle about his own reactions. Which he did. A lot.

“Ev…” he mumbled then stumbled over his words again as his breath was knocked out of him with the emotions. He leaned to kiss him once more before flopping to the side and cuddling into him, ready to sleep and contentedly exhausted from their day.
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by: Everett Cooper
Ev just held his boyfriend contently against his chest and stroked his dark hair, a lazy smile on his face as he watched Alasdair’s eyes change colors as they so often did with his emotions. This time the chocolatey, mahogany brown pools shifted to a breathtaking dark reddish-purple. It made the vampire want to ask him what he was thinking, what he was feeling, since the color shifts weren’t always obviously corresponded to the emotion that triggered them. Or at least not to the SEAL they weren’t. Pink meant he was embarrassed. Orange seemed to be aroused or turned on. Reddish-purple was a new one however. Maybe it was just happy? Or maybe it meant Alasda-

What the fuck was that?

Ev kept his suspicion and sudden alertness out of his expression, not wanting to ruin their peaceful moment on the likely event it was simply the fire escape creaking. What he had heard certainly didn’t sound like any of the noises the old rusty fire escape outside his window regularly made however. It sounded more like… leather or maybe rubber squeaking? Shoes, if he had to guess, meaning there was somebody outside on the fire escape real close to his windows. There were only two apartments in his building, his own on the second floor and the landlord’s on the third floor, and the landlord never used the fire escape for anything, so who the fuck was out there? Straining his ears it seemed like whoever was outside was trying to be quiet as they moved across the metal scaffolding, which only served to increase Ev’s suspicious reaction.

Leaning forward to whisper in Alasdair’s ear, Ev murmured softly, “I can hear something out on the fire escape but I don’t know what it is and I don’t know if it’s anything we need to be concerned about. I want you to grab your clothes and your wand and go into the bathroom while I check it out, okay? Nice and easy, like nothing’s wrong,” he coached him quietly, gently lifting the smaller man out of bed and to his feet.

The retired SEAL slipped out of bed as well, putting his larger body between Alasdair and the window as he walked him to the bathroom, grabbing a pair of basketball shorts and pulling them on as he went. He kissed Alasdair quickly and whispered, “I love you; I’ll keep you safe,” then turned and closed the bathroom door behind himself as he turned toward the window and the fire escape. He grabbed the silver knife his father had given him for protection and crept to the window, sliding it open slowly so it didn’t creak. When he poked his head out the window and saw the trespasser he inhaled the scent… and promptly relaxed his edgy stance.

“Choir Boy? What the fuck, man?” he asked, ever the eloquent speechmaker.
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by: Matthew Cox
Needed to go. Couldn't, shouldn't stay...Especially since Everett was sending his friend to the safety of the bathroom and he himself was-

Too late. Everett was at the window casement, sticking his head out and catching him. The Devil was at least turned to face his friend, shoulders square and face grim. What must he think? Here was the famed vigilante, stinking of anxieties and lurking like a ghost where he wasn't invited. And wasn't ghost the appropriate term? He was a dead man according to the news. Matt felt dead. He was buried six feet under and upside down. Life had become cold, hostile, judgmental, and harsh. He was dead, the mutant surmised, but his body hadn't caught up with the information yet. The patchouli-amber-smoke-clove-velvet smell of the confessional still clung to him even though he'd changed into his armor. That only added to the dead feeling. Was the censer of ashes a funeral pyre or a sacrifice of prayer? He didn't know.

How many times had he circled back to that phrasing? He didn't know...He didn't know what happened to Rina. He didn't know how he'd gotten so lost in the rage that he'd attacked Tava and Rex to the point they were in the hospital. He didn't know if he was a terrorist traitor or a victim. There were too many question marks haunting him. Matt was lost, still, even with the curse lifted. How was he supposed to survive when he just felt burdened by all the questions? He just felt...dead.

Then there was Everett's question. What the fuck, indeed. Matt could ask the same question of life, of God, of whatever malicious spirits were dictating the farce of his life. What the fuck happened? Two days ago he was happy. Today, he was a ghost. A weak smile started to bloom. He died so quickly he didn't know he was dead yet. All it took to kill him was a curse being lifted. Like a flower planted in gravel, the smile died as soon as it bloomed. Despair watered no plants, sustained no creature, made fertile no ground. It was bitter gall; it was all he could taste.

"I can come back later," the mutant deflected, so soft as to be barely audible for both their supernatural hearing. He was a ghost, after all, and the whispers of the dead were not so distant from the whispers of the Devil. He turned to leave then without confirming a follow up date or time.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Alasdair had been half asleep when Ev demanded he go to bathroom. At first the words hadn’t even computed in his groggy brain as he started to move to listen to the order until the danger of the situation started to sink in. Everett was worried and that was enough to put Alasdair on edge too. Following his instruction with a practiced calmness, he got up and snatched his clothes along the way swiftly. If anything, the wizard was a little grateful right now to his slave training for knowing how to shut down the panic in a situation like this, as disgusting of a thought as that was.

Turning to look back at Everett, he almost melted into the stolen kiss then froze with the vampire’s words. He loved him? Hadn’t he just been thinking the same? His heart jumped to his throat and momentarily Alasdair wasn’t sure if it was from joy or fear. In the moment, he suspected it was more fear. If the person on the balcony was a snatcher, if he had been spotted top side and recognized… Then he had finally gotten a taste of a potential life just to have it stolen away again. His heart hammered and dark fury stolen into him. That wasn’t going to happen and no one was going to hurt Everett either. Not if the wizard had any say or fight left in him.

Pulling on his pants and shirt, Alasdair held his wand at ready listening through the door prepared to be Ev’s back-up if need be. He heard Ev’s voice, a curse, but no struggle. Okay? Weird. Waiting a few more moments gave to silence and anxiety ate into the wizard. He looked into the mirror briefly, shifting slowly. Ginger hair, hazel eyes, tanner skin of the same build. Maybe if it was a snatcher, Alasdair would be able to pass as someone else for Ev. If he could at least get the drop on the aggressor or get him to go away so the wizard could handle it later that would be fine as well. Satisfied with his appearance, Alasdair tucked his wand along his arm so the handle rested in his palm and the length of it was hidden parallel to his forearm.

Cracking the bathroom door, the wizard poked his head out and looked around intently only to see Ev standing at the window, ”Ev? Is it a cat or something?” he asked, wandering out cautiously. For all he knew the poor vampire was already Imperius’d or something of the sort. He adjusted his hold on his wand as he watched with hard eyes, heart in his throat.
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by: Everett Cooper
The last of Everett’s uncertainty drained away as Matt froze on the fire escape, only to be replaced with concern for his friend’s safety and well-being when he smelled the mutant’s scent. Fear that seemed just shy of full blown panic, adrenaline, and an emotion that seemed more like despair than anything else had Ev’s instincts in overdrive with worry for Matt. The vampire tossed the knife onto his bed from his spot at the window and extended his hand to the armored man before he turned to leave, speaking to him in the same gentle and soothing voice he used when he was a PTSD counselor for fellow vets. “Matt, come inside. You have nothing to be afraid of here and it’s okay. Come around to the front door, okay? I’ll go unlock it. My boyfriend is here too, but he’s not going to hurt you either, Matt.”

Ev waited a few beats for Matt’s answer, still not positive his friend would follow his direction but needing to make sure Alasdair was alright as well. He could hear the wizard’s heart pounding and smell his anxiety even from here and Ev wasn’t sure his boyfriend wouldn’t do something drastic if he thought Everett was in danger. Better to risk Matt leaving altogether and have to track him down after the fact than risk Alasdair coming out of hiding, guns blazing. Or wand. Whatever. He had a sneaking suspicion that with Matt as on edge as he appeared to be and Alasdair probably thinking the worst, having Alasdair come out waving a weapon around would escalate the situation waaayyy more than any of them wanted. He really didn’t need his boyfriend jinxing his brother or his brother kicking the shit outta his boyfriend tonight…

Ev pulled his head back inside the window but left it open in case Matt decided to crawl in that way instead of going to the front door. He turned around just in time to see the bathroom door crack open and a head poke out cautiously. He would’ve said it was Alasdair’s head, and he supposed it still was technically, but the features were certainly not his boyfriend’s. Ev barely paused in his stride as he came over to the door to comfort the wizard, offering him a hug as he explained.

“Everything’s okay, darlin’,” he assured him gently. “It uh… It’s a friend. More of a brother, really. Sumthin’s wrong but I don’t know what yet, and I’m worried. I just saw him a couple days ago but he’s… he’s not the same as he was then,” he murmured, frowning a little. “I’m sorry our night got derailed and I’m sorry if I scared you; I wanted to protect you just in case.” He kissed Alasdair’s forehead tenderly and hugged him again. “I told Matt to come around to the front door, but I’m not sure he’s gonna listen. He’s… real spooked over sumthin’. If he doesn’t come in, I’m gonna go after him. I gotta…” Ev sighed and ran his hand through his hair as he looked over his shoulder toward the window again. “Gonna go check the door,” he added, stealing another kiss before he padded out of the bedroom to wait by the front door of the apartment, hoping Matt came inside.
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by: Matthew Cox
Movement Matt cocked his head when Everett’s boyfriend exited the bathroom. Even in his current state, Matt was hyper focused on the details...namely, the wand tucked up against the man’s arm. To his credit, the mutant didn’t outright bolt in panic. His heart rate didn’t even jump that much. Whether that was a victory to be proud of or just a byproduct of his training, Matt couldn’t say.

What he could say was this: Everett’s worry was tangible and oddly soothing. The vampire cared and that was enough to make the marine nod when he was told to come around to the front door. All it took was a spring up the fire escape, onto the top of the building, and back down the other side. He was able to do it quickly and quietly...ghostlike.

Except he wasn’t one of the dead legions unseen. His brother had seen him and wanted him to come in. There was a link to the land of the living. In a word: hope. He had hope of help finally. The wizard inside might be a bit of a stumbling block for his recovery, Matt reflected. Or he might help. Who knew?

...what if the wizard put him back under a control spell or tried to hurt him?

No. Everett wouldn’t allow that in his home. Not all magic users were out to get him. Paranoia might be a natural response to trauma, but if it led to isolation, it was no good. Besides, Orion and Tristan served as vidence that not every magic user was the Dark Lady or Tabora. And he needed to remember Cora was as much a victim as he was.

Feeling more confident and less flighty, Matt dropped down to the landing for the front door and hid himself from the street below while he waited for the door to open.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Alasdair tucked into his arms quickly and hugged him tightly, wand pressing across his back firmly. ”Alright. If you trust him…” he muttered against him chest as he buried his face there, needing Ev’s warm smell to help relax his nerves, ”But I’m not changing back until after I meet him.” Because he wanted to see how the two interacted. Alasdair hadn’t seen them talk, couldn’t hear their muffled words and it left an anxious knot in his stomach. If the man was a wizard or set off any of Alasdair’s other alarm bells the night would be getting interesting. But hopefully not. Preferably not even.

As Everett went to answer the door, the wizard forced himself to take a moment to breathe. Even mentally walked through the tenets of his martial training, murmuring them to himself first in English then in Mandarin. He stumbled over the sixth, pausing then repeating himself.

”Use the Mind not Strength. Let the Yi lead the Chi.”

With another huff of breath, Alasdair tucked his wand into his back pocket. Still quickly accessible but more peaceful than how he had come out of the bathroom. He couldn’t be scared forever. Wary and smart but not scared. Logic before fear. He was a damn Ravenclaw after all. So he set through reminding himself of the facts quickly. Tonight had been the first time Alasdair had risked going out in public with Ev. With the new regiment, it as unlikely that any Death Eaters would be in a densely Muggle setting and most snatchers would have shown up to take advantage of their earlier distraction than waited. Not to mention with what Ev was, the wizard might be afford some protection as a feeder which would ward off snatchers who knew better than to piss off the clans. So, logically, this was probably all just a piss poor coincidence that had made the ex-slave jumpy as hell.

Worse still, Alasdair had worried Ev with his behavior. He swallowed thickly at that. His dumb sweet vampire. Who had told him he loved him and wanted to protect him. And Alasdair hadn’t even given him the courtesy or honesty of fully explaining his own situation to his boyfriend. Perhaps it was fear, mostly shame though. But he would need to get over himself because somehow, very rapidly, that vampire had become important and he deserved that much respect from the wizard. So, before he could fall even further into his self-deprecating introspection, Alasdair padded his way to the front room, hovering in the living room to wait for them.
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by: Everett Cooper
It took a moment for Alasdair’s comment about changing his features back to normal to register in his brain. Ev paused on his way out of the bedroom and turned back to his boyfriend for a moment with a reassuring smile. “Matt is blind, hun, and he’s a muggle like I was. Well, kinda. Anyway, he can’t see what you look like, but do whatever makes you comfortable, okay?” he added gently. “And I trust him with my life. We served together in Afghanistan a few years ago. He’s good people and I need to help him,” Ev said confidently, hoping he alleviated at least some of Alasdair’s worry. As the vampire turned to open the front door again he could hear the wizard going through what sounded like some sort of mantra probably to calm himself down, so Ev was hopeful that his boyfriend wasn’t so on-edge now.

As he crossed the living room the sound of the heavy door to the street closing behind someone caught Ev’s attention; hopefully it was Matt coming up the steps and not just the landlord coming home from work, he thought to himself and said a quick prayer to whatever higher power there might be that his brother listened and came inside. Whether someone upstairs was listening or Matt just exhibited some good judgement for once, Everett was relieved to smell his brother’s scent coming up the stairs when he opened the door to his apartment. The vampire leaned against the door jamb casually and smiled as he waited for Matt to make it up to the second floor.

“Hey, bruv,” the SEAL greeted the mutant with a smile. “C’mon inside and we’ll make some introductions, okay? You hungry? There’s some leftover lasagne I can heat up for you if you’re interested,” Ev offered as he held the door open for Matt. He wanted to make the mutant feel safe and at home, and apparently his good ol’ Georgia roots were showing with his offer of food. Whatever. If it worked, so much the better.
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by: Matthew Cox
Matt wasted no time in entering the apartment once the door opened. There was no danger outside, but it just felt safer to be out of sight, even if that meant being in an enclosed space with a strange wizard. Matt's head cocked suddenly as he looked over the defensive stranger. The scent was the same as the man who'd come in with Everett, and he even still had the vampire's scent on him, mingled with endorphins, intimacy, and sweat, but his shape was different. Had he transfigured himself or was he...what was the term again? He'd read about the wizards who had a natural ability to change their forms. The government preferred recruiting them...hell.

Matt swallowed down the rising suspicions. Everett wasn't going to knowingly put him in danger. Key word was knowingly, and operatives on both sides eased their way into relationships to try and get information, right? It wasn't implausible that this wizard in Everett's apartment was a government agent. Improbable, maybe, but it was smarter and safer to keep an edge up and be ready to defend. The marine set his bag down by the door and nodded a greeting to Ev.

"I'm sorry to bother you both, tonight. I really can come back if its better...and no thanks on the food. Too keyed up right now to eat..."

He kept his focus on the wizard, but quickly scanned the rest of the apartment. No newspaper, so...dammit. Matt huffed and took a stance against the wall, nonchalant to the untrained eye but coiled and ready to move to trained observers like Ev. The vampire would know how badly on edge he was, but the mutant could hopefully keep his partner calm and unaware of how close to freaking out the Devil was.

And why? Paranoia. Fear. Being hunted didn't suit Matt, and he wasn't sure who all was doing the hunting. Mi5, sure, but the police? Military? Wizards and witches? Was the Dark Lady back on his tail? There were too many question marks in the air and too few opportunities to rest and relax. Add to that the conflict of did he or did he not really love her, should he go back, the whole soap opera drama on TOP of breaking free from the imperius and trying to find all the shattered pieces of his life...fuck. Maybe a beer later once he didn't feel so wound up...
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Hyper-agitation, twitchy, defensive. His voice said a lot for what he was hiding in his body language. Alasdair kept his false hazel eyes locked on the strange man. In armor. But Ev had vouched for him and who knew what this guy was into decked out like that. The helmet was a bit much, adding a slight ridiculous feel to the situation. Honestly, who dressed like that? The wizard hoped his attempt to find humor in the situation was more an indication of his nerves rather than fear. Last thing he wanted was Ev smelling his fright and feeling the need to comfort both him and his friend. Inf act Alasdair should really make an attempt of getting along. If this man was a snatcher (though he didn’t give that feel with the nervous air emitting off him) the wizard shouldn’t hint at his wariness and tip him off.

With a small sigh, Alasdair moved into the kitchen letting the man at his back but making sure his wand was still within grabbing rang if the other took the opening. ”If you’re keyed up tea will help,” he said as he put the kettle on for them. Because clearly over English-ing the situation was going to be the only way the wizard was going to be useful for right now. Or was it over Turk-ing this time? Yeah, the humor was definitely his nerves being completely fried out from the surprise. He prepared three mugs because, honestly, they could all use a hot mug of chill the fuck out. Because they were all friends here supposedly.

He was glad he had started to store a few things as Ev’s apartment as weird and intimate as that thought was. Some of his favorite teas, a few outfits, a whole bathroom kit. Not enough to be considered moved in but still… Intimate and comfortable. What the hell was happening with his life? But then, if the wizard was honest with himself, he was just thinking about telling his boyfriend that he was in love with him. Which meant that if this man was a snatcher Alasdair would murder him for putting a hand, or curse in this case, on Everett. The black thoughts creeped to the back of his mind of how exactly he’d push the threat before he took another slow breath. No, that’s not necessarily what was going on. He needed tea.

Focusing more on the present situation, Alasdair pulled out the honey to put a little in each mug then the hot water and a packet of soothing lavender letting them steep. He left his mug sit while he handed one to each of the other men quietly. ”Stop acting like you’re bugging us. If something important happened and you came here because you needed to talk to Ev or somewhere safe then it’s not an imposition at all,” he said softly knowing the vampire would agree with the sentiment. Hopefully with Alasdair voicing his agreement would help the other calm a little more. Ev had said his name was Matt? Oh that reminded him… ”I’m Alasdair by the way,” he introduced as he put the mug in Matt’s hands since Ev had also said the man was blind. Though the quickness he had gone from the window to the front door made him wonder if Ev was being played a bit of a fool for that aspect. But his personal questions could wait until later.
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by: Everett Cooper
Tension, fear, he might even have gone so far as to say that he smelled straight up paranoia on Matt as he brushed by him and into the apartment. Everett watched his brother carefully as the mutant scanned his surroundings. Matt was clearly on edge and the tense way the marine scanned the room, especially Alasdair, only raised the suspicion in Ev’s mind that this wasn’t just a social call. The marine was too jumpy, too defensive for that to have been the case, plus with Matty in that snazzy suit something had to have happened to cause the reaction he was seeing in the other frogman and if he were a betting man, Ev would say it was something pretty damn major.

“You ain’t bothering anybody, brother,” Ev assured him. Without consciously thinking about it Ev slipped into the attitude and demeanor of the PTSD counselor as he tried to not only assess Matt’s state but also decide how best to move forward to comfort the marine and Alasdair, because Matt may have been the one in crisis but Alasdair was certainly not calm either. Although it seemed that Alasdair was calming down at least a little bit Ev noted as the wizard moved into the kitchen to make tea. The vampire smiled gratefully at his boyfriend and turned back to Matt.

“Take it easy, brother,” he soothed. “You’re safe here and I already told ya I’d always be here if ya needed to talk about anything. Do you wanna sit and wait for tea?” he asked with a gentle smile. When Alasdair introduced himself Ev’s southern manners cringed at the oversight, giving his smile a slightly sheepish tinge. “Oh. Right. Sorry. Matt, this is my boyfriend Alasdair. Alasdair, this is my friend Matt.” Ev moved over to the fridge to grab himself a half-pint blood bag to replenish the energy he had used earlier, biting into it like a kid with a juice box. “Hope you don’t mind if I have a snack,” he mumbled around the bag in his mouth, his words slurring a little.
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by: Matthew Cox
Two reassurances, both sincere, washed over Matt and helped him hold onto the fear and emotional turmoil. Those two waves were receding again. All the mutant could do was wonder when the waves would crash again. The first crash of the emotions had driven him to church. Matt had thought he had control of himself, but the second wave had convinced him otherwise. Then, the third crash absolutely wrecked him. Back, forth, back...the waves were like ocean surf, throwing him onto the shore and dragging him back under. What was there to do anymore but actually ask for the help he needed?

"Okay...okay. Thanks. It's-oh, for fuck's sake, you told him I was blind, but not the important bits? Rebel!"

Matt laughed at the tea, faltering slightly as he held the mug. The warmth and the comforting scent of tea helped him focus. But...this wasn't English black tea...Fruity. Floral. He sipped it and swirled the blend before swallowing. Apricot. Apple? It was nice. He sighed again, calmer. Now, how did he begin? He should probably get out of his armor, try to actually relax, and tell the story that needed telling. The first step was the helmet. Matt reached up with his free hand, removed his helmet, and tossed it to the couch. He nodded to Everett's suggestion and headed to sit.

"So...Ev, the long story short is that Cora's an operative of the wizarding government. She was originally contracted a month ago to kill me because of my abilities...Alasdair, what I alluded to a moment ago, the important bits? My eyes don't work, but I can see...anyway, she didn't. Obviously. Instead..."

He shuddered and snarled silently, a spark of rage flaring and dying in him.

"She cursed"

He choked on the curse name, unable to choose between saying it and losing his hold on his rage, or keeping it in and keeping his temper. After a moment of trembling again, he took another gulp of tea, ignoring the temperature.[…]

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