by D'Artagnon

Chapter 14

House Cleaning

So many songs are written about home. How you can never really go back, how it's the only place you can always go back to. How good it is to drown in memories? How sometimes a house just isn't a home. Home in the city, home in the country. Home, home on the range. It is a bittersweet concept, home.

And here I was, literally spitting distance from where my home had been, when my whole world crashed down around my shoulders. 13 years I'd called this house, this simple plot of land where Highland Avenue and Summit Avenue met my home. It was where I first learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. It was where I trick or treated one year dressed as a Satyr (oddly prophetic that!). It was where I ran to with banged up knees and bumble bees trapped in a cup and showed off my report cards, even back when I got C's in PE.

This place had pretty much defined my life until lately. Then the whole magical, chimerical, Glamour filled world invaded my simple life and turned everything I knew upside down, inside out and sideways, spinning backwards on the clock. Then my parents were murdered. And everything changed yet again. I still had Kenny, my Kay Neth. Still had fencing and magic and the wonders of eyes opened to the Dreaming. And yet everything else was just… just…


I sat, after the training on that third day in the bubble wondering what I'd gotten my friends and boyfriend into. I'd watched my best friend, Juan, get skewered by his own father, right before my rage filled eyes. Sure, we'd led a bunch of sword newbies through a major battle slash assassination ambush with few casualties and injuries. Yeah, we'd rescued a lot of scared, innocent kids from literally a burning building. And we'd uncovered a greater plot that threatened to change the entire Kingdom of Apples, and possibly more. All for possession of a single chunk of blue crystal hanging around my neck. Well, that and a multi millennia old blood feud with a power-mad, child-murdering psychopath hell bent on putting my head on a short chain to hang from his belt.

All for someone else's power and glory.

So, I sat on the big flat rock overlooking my parent's house. I couldn't bear to call it home anymore. It was sort of where my childhood ended this time around on the ever-revolving door of Changeling immortality and rebirth. And yeah, I'm still just a scrawny 13 year old geek boy in this universe, but that eternal weariness of my eons old Satyr soul felt very close to the surface. Every night in that bubble I had wild dreams of ages past. Different cultures, different languages, different bodies, even different sexes. And each dream ended the same way. With my waking with a start, Kenny laying on my chest, naked skin burning as only skin to skin contact can, reliving a moment when one of my previous incarnations met a tragic and often violent end.

Kinda sucks, huh?

Anyways. The others are frolicking. I know that Bethy was using a pool of moonlit water to scry on Juan's condition. Paul and Jack were in the hidden cave behind the waterfall, keeping each other company, ifuknowhutimean. The werewolves were off doing what werewolves do, whatever that might be. Kenny was nearby, but his nose was in some ancient scroll thing he had, reading up on how to impart Glamour and cantrips to artifacts. We had a mind to give our weapons an extra bit of oomph! for the coming battle. Which left me with too much time to think.

I know what you're thinking. I've never been successfully accused of deep thought, and that's not about to start now. But memories of my time in the house below, down in the vale at the center of this bubble of altered reality, those images and emotions kept bubbling to the surface, drawing on me like water up through plumbing, spilling onto the empty canvas of my mind with such gloriously painful and vivid detail.

That Christmas I got my first bicycle. Dad, running behind me and letting go of the seat while I pedaled on diligently. Fear and joy swirling inside me.

A lazy fall day helping Mom rake leaves into an enormous pile, only to have her lift my scrawny eight-year-old form up under my arms and drop me into the pile, scattering brilliant colors in all directions.

A moment when I found a dead blue jay in the yard and carefully packed him up in an egg crate and buried him out by the fence rail where I often saw him perched. That sense of part of my childhood dying, but also a sense that my moral core grew some in compassion for loss.

The scent of warm cookies and my father's aftershave. Lazy Saturdays in the living room with the TV on, a Red Sox game playing and my parents shouting at the screen. Was almost better than being there.

The brief twinge of static from rubbing my stocking feet on the carpet come winter snows. That crisp feel to the December air, laced with the scent of evergreen, peppermint and hot chocolate after shoveling snow.

My mother's hands dressing any one of hundreds of boo boos and ouchies and icepack-needing sprains because I was too much boy and not enough brain, off doing some hare brained stunt I should have known better than to try on the swing set.

Yeah, lot of history here. A lot of history.

"Beloved?" Kenny asked, looking up from his research. "What's wrong?"

"Jus' memories. It's nothing," I replied, turning away from him, my arms folded on top of my knees. We had just our gym shorts on, deciding that while Bethy was okay with being around so many nude boys, it was cleaner, personally, to not be sitting our naked butts and balls around on cold rocks. I heard him carefully roll up the scroll and come sit beside me, kneeling on his right leg only, the other firmly planted.

"It's not nothing."

"It's just memories, alright. This place has lots of them for me," I said, giving a thumb hook at the house.

His hand moved quicker than I anticipated, his strong, supple fingers finding the flesh of my jawline at just the right spot for his thumb to graze over my cheek, just below the eye. He released me and held the thumb up for me to see the tears I'd been crying without realizing it.

"It isn't nothing," he said, placing his hand on my shoulder. "Something really has you worked up, huh?"

"It's all crashing, Kay Neth. Like in Cerulean. Or Atlantis. Or Lemuria, and Athens, and Luxor, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, Illum, Paris…. Like in hundreds of other times and places. And it's always the same. We die, he's there, the war starts all over again."

"I know," Kenny said, pulling my head to his chest. "This time feels different though. This time…"

"Could be the last. All because of this thing," I said, leaning away from him, wrapping my hand around the Tear. "All because of the greed it inspires."

"Yeah," Kenny said, sighing loudly. I could see his cheeks still flush with shame in the scant illumination of our camp site. "Now you know why I hid the truth about it from you."

"I'm glad I know now. I'm still a bit upset that you kept that info from me, but I know why. And I know why you prevented me from trying to get my parents back. That would have been an act of greed. Selfishness. It would have tainted the Tear's Glamour again, after my long lost Honored Father spent so much of his time to purify it."

"I'm glad you understand that truth," Kenny said, rolling his half standing leg down to the stony surface beneath us. "It wasn't easy keeping you from learning on your own. That kind of power is seductive. It can be like an addiction. If you used it selfishly like that, who knows what other things you might have been tempted to do. In all the lore I have read about the Vergence Philters, those who are easily corrupted by such power tend to use it often, and rarely for decent purposes."

"Like the One Ring?" Yeah, I'm a Tolkeen geek. Shut up!

"Well," Kenny said, grinning in his trademark way. "I don't think it's quite like that. I mean, you don't hear it whispering to you to do evil things. It's not bound by the spirit of an immortal sorcerer bent on using dark powers to dominate the world."

"Yeah. Maybe."

"It's not whispering to you, is it?" Kenny asked, his head tilted at an angle.

"No, nothing like that. But I can feel its power, just laying on me, waiting to be used. It kind of sings to me without words when I use it. Like just music fills my ears and skin while I'm channeling the energy. It wants to be used."


"Okay, that's not the right word. It is like… it's not alive, but it knows it has a purpose, and that's to direct Glamour. And it's not so much giving me knowledge of powers as much as it is feeding powers already inside me. Maybe things I'd never discover on my own. But just by having such power with me… it makes things possible, even things that normally I wouldn't have. Does… does that make sense?"

"More than you know. In the stories of the Vergence Philters, it is clear that the stones take on certain personality aspects of whoever uses it. Your Honored Father was able to purify it of the greed and anger inside by turning its power to constructive uses, not to warfare."

"Fuck! All the weapons I created using this…."

"That's not the same," Kenny responded quickly, sensing my panic. "Those were acts of creation. You didn't use the Tear's power to destroy or inflict harm." I looked to him and felt my shaking ribs settle down. "You created, you empowered, you let the Glamour flow. You didn't use it to tear down or outright kill."

"It can do ALL that?" I asked, getting a grasp of how deep his worry actually was.

"It is only limited by strength of your will and the power of your imagination. Legends tell of the Fallen Sun, the Orange stone, merging piles of animals together into multi limbed monstrosities the size of Titans, unleashing them upon a city of Trolls. The Red one, the Philosopher's Stone, was used to cause blood to boil and flash into vapor inside the bodies of whole armies. And the one you hold has been used to make the oceans heave, storms of enormous power spring forth from clear skies and forced flocks of birds and beasts alike to charge with wild mad abandon into townships, laying waste to all who live within."

I actually looked down at the fist enclosing the crystal at my collarbones. So much destruction from this barely finger long sliver of clear stone. So much potential, and so much tragedy.

"It's too much. No one being, mortal or otherwise, should have such power at his disposal." I tried to pull it off, just rip the necklace off of my neck, but the Tear had other ideas and its tether to me would not snap.

"That powerful artifact chose you for a reason. I don't know why, and we may never know for sure. But it belongs where it is. You and it have bonded. Once it has chosen a champion, it stays with that person for life. Only death may part you now."

"Oh that's bullshit! You made that up!" I shouted, trying to tug it off again. "That's just some West Side Story drama logic crap or something!"

"Wow," Kenny said, deadpan, standing up. "Points for the angry word salad. And accusing a gay kid of using musical theater as logic and wisdom. How stereotypical is that?" he asked with dry irony. "I know you got a lot on your mind. Fuck, I'm still worried sick about OUR Dad and about Juan. I know you're still hurting. And I know it's a lot of pressure, carrying that thing," and he pointed to my chest. "But we got a lot of people about to point sharp things through our soft squishy parts, tomorrow, babe. You need to get your head out of your ass if you intend to lead us into combat."

"I don't want to lead anyone into battle. I don't want all this responsibility! Fuck, Kay! I just want to be fuckin' thirteen again! I want…"

"What!?" He shouted, turning to face me, his own anger flaring into his awesome gray eyes. "What the fuck is it that you want?"

"I want my parents to not be dead!" I screamed back. Anger flared in me, too.

"And how the fuck do you think they would feel about you running from your responsibility?" he returned, equally as angry.

"What?! How dare you use my parents against me?"

"Robert William French," he shouted back, using middle name authority that only parents should be able to use, yet he somehow pulled it off. Yeah, it pinned back my ears.

"The reason you are the best place for that thing," he said, pointing to the Tear, "the best person to wield it, is because you don't want it. And the reason all of us are so ready to follow you into the jaws of death itself is because you don't want the job but you have the skills to do the job."


"Babe, your ambitions aren't to seek battle for glory, nor to seek power for the sake of simply gaining power."

I paused, open mouthed for a moment.

"You may be a spoiled little glory hound for your own pride, but you value other people's lives more than yours." That caught me flat-footed "That's why you ran back into that burning building. Why you tried to save Charlie's life. It's who you are to put those you lead above yourself. The reason we all trust you so much is because you have no ulterior motives. And your parents knew it."

"What are you talking about?"

"Don't you remember, from the will video?" My blank stare spoke more about my apparent ignorance than my voice possibly could. Well, that's not true. I have a talent for stepping into my own mouth with both feet. Crap, that analogy sounded better in my head than it looks on paper. Anyways, once again, Kenny had me flustered, emotional and feeling stupid all at once. He's either got a gift for that or I make it easy.

"They literally told you. Remember?" He locked eyes with me and recited, as if for a teacher in school.

"In twisted ways the twisted days do summon up secrets from the past

yet in sorrow's craze the mind's own maze will unravel the darkest wrath .

When comes the time of trial and strife, be thy nature true unto the end.

For the truths betrayed for the sun's bright rays your spirit's will shall mend."

I felt the tears streaking down my face as he recited their final words to me. It had almost a mystical quality to me. And it shook me. From drowning in memories, to worried about this burden on my narrow chest, then to intense anger, feeling attacked by the person closest to me in the entire universe, back to being a scolded child, unwilling to completely deal with the fact that my parents were truly gone while sitting overlooking the place they made for themselves, the place they made for me in this cold, lonely world.

"They meant for you to be what you know you are, Robby. Robyn. They wanted you to not let darkness overwhelm you."

I felt like a fish hanging on a hook after being jerked up out of the water. You know, mouth open, unable to breathe, exposed, pulled open from the head up. Pierced and suspended by my lips alone. Gee, don't think I'll ever look at seafood quite the same way ever again. And as a native-born New Englander, that's saying something.

"You always know how to scatter the clouds in my head," I said, feeling all the emotion empty out of me with a protracted sigh.

"Yeah, well, sometimes you get too full of bone headed Satyr ideas." Damn, that grin of his just melts me.

"No words, Kay."

"No words, Robyn."

I looked down to the house, below and away, sighing again. "I guess that means I gotta go in there, huh?" The place looked so strange, windows darkened as it was. I could barely make out the front door, since the light over the street number was not lit. I have to admit, I did not like the thought of what I might find in there.

"I'll go in with you."


"Dude!" he said, placing his hand on my shoulder. "I happen to love the fuck out of you, if you didn't notice." Took my breath away to hear him swear like that. Kenny only ever did that unless his emotions were all rowed up. "I'd fight, kill and die for you. You're my crazy bone-headed, overly horny, wiseass, ride-or-die boyfriend."

"But this is the Dreaming mixed with Mage stuff," I said, tilting my head to meet his gaze over my shoulder. "What will we find in there?"

"Probably everything you expect to find in there. Everything your family left in there, and more. The stuff you left behind you already know. But this is part of their Dreaming, too."

"Yeah. How much Mage stuff is in there that they didn't tell me about?" I wondered. "What secrets?" I took two steps towards the edge of the flat slab of rock and looked down at the house. I heard Kenny move to stand beside and behind me.

"Only one way to find out. Gotta admit, I'm sorta curious. I know it sounds strange, but I kind of wonder what things in the house are enchanted."

"Like maybe that butcher knife you stabbed me with?"

"I recall you stabbed me right back, with the same knife, just three weeks later, Beloved," he grinned back. "But you know what I mean."

"I never thought of them ever needing magical stuff. I mean, do they have like, I dunno, Mage weapons? What would that even be?"

"Wish we knew a Mage we could ask," Kenny commented wryly with a shrug and open hand gesture.

"For the record," I said, turning to face him, "I do have ambitions. Very selfish ones."

"Yeah? And what might those be, milord?" he asked, draping his wrists over my shoulders. "Still planning on going for the Junior Olympics fencing team?"

"No. I think that might have to be a dream that waits. Got to take care of this business before I go seeking personal glory."

"Then what, oh masterful Lord Protector, doth shine so bright as to gather thine ambitions?"

"For us to do as Paul said. First rule." I turned my head to face him over my shoulder "Everybody comes home from the mission."

"And that," he said, kissing between my horns, "is why you are best qualified to lead."

Kenny was definitely right about one thing. I am kind of a bone head at times. I'm not the best long-term planner, more of the thrive in the moment tactician than a strategist. Its why I usually suck at chess. I also try to put off doing things I don't like to do. I'm that kid that would save the thing he likes least on the plate at dinner time for last and wind up tasting it in my mouth for hours until time to brush my teeth for bed. I'm stubborn and sometimes too aggressive, certainly too dumb to back down from a challenge.

It's why I was so ready to beat Croaker in the Dragon's Dance duel what seems like forever ago. It's why I faced down the dragon that it turns out was my brother Corwyn's trapped soul. It's why I accepted Magnus' challenge at the YMCA just before the place burned down around us and we had to fight monsters in order to get out.

I guess my impulsive nature is what makes me such a dangerous fighter, either with a quick blade or a sharp tongue. So, I jumped down from the flat rock and half ran, half stumbled down the hill, towards the house at the center of the enormous bygon glade. Only by Satyr balance and grace did I get down that hill without breaking my fool neck. Kenny was nearly on my heels, his Eshu instinct for knowing the right path guiding him just a few steps behind me.

We grabbed our shirts. It didn't feel right somehow only going to the place that had meant so much to me in only our shorts. We walked up to the front door, only to find Onyx and Gossymer already there, as if anticipating that we'd be coming by. I patted my unicorn friend on the flank and tried to go past him. But he took several steps and stood in my way. Gossymer similarly blocked Kenny, although not as forcefully. I moved to step around him, past the unicorns. That's when two very menacing unicorn horns crossed before me, barring my path. They rang out together with a hollow crystal tone, Gossymer putting a gently reedy note to it, like a piccolo.

"Hey, what gives?"

"I guess they don't want us going in," Kenny said. He took a step around, only to have Gossymer plant a hoof defiantly with a very loud "thump!"

"Oh yeah. Definitely don't want us going in. But why?" I asked.

"I dunno. Maybe we could try the back door?" Kenny suggested. That earned a snort and a brief blast of notes up Onyx's horn, like a clarinet powered by steam.

"Don't need Cody to translate that! Okay, we wont try to go in there. For now." Onyx seemed to take that for a promise and nodded, his mane flashing in the dimness. Whatever secrets inside would have to wait. But I was going to get in there, sometime. I patted Onyx on the neck a few times and seemed content.

"So now what?"

"I guess we rest some." I took his hand and started back up the long path to the flat rock. "How's that research into enchanting going?"

"I think we can do it," Kenny said, "but there's a catch. I don't think we are strong enough to pull off more then a few simple embedded enchantments. And it will have to be all the same enchantments for everyone. Like I don't think we have the juice to do it all separately for each one." He took two steps around a bit of rock "And it can only be done on simple weapons that don't have too much enchantment laid on them already."

"Lot of ands there."

"There are conditions. But the gist of it is, nothing made by the Tear or anything already changed by some other higher level magical art or power can be altered. The sabers, sure, since there is only the Light Blade cantrip running on them."

"It's an advantage. We can use it." I helped him up a particularly steep part of the hill and promptly we both lost out balance and fell over. I tried to stand, but we kept falling down, giggling like idiots. We fell down, couldn't tell you why I was acting like that. Just giddy and carefree.

Like puppies or wild horses.

He rolled up over me and I stared up at him, laughing. He looked down, smiling. Those gorgeous slivery eyes of his shining from above, twin moons on dark and cloudy night. My giggles suddenly faded. I stared up to him, still smiling. I reached out, crossed my wrists behind his neck.

"Maybe we need enchantments to keep us from falling down," he giggled.

"You are so amazing," I said, bringing his lips down to mine. He melted into me in a long, wet, slippery, dangerously-deep kiss.

Something wasn't completely stable under us, because I felt it move, and then suddenly we were moving too. His body slipped against mine and I felt the urge to roll above him. We ended up starting a roll that went down the hill, landing right in front of the gate. Giggling again. Him on top. Seated over my hips.

He sat up high, looking down, biting his lips. I moved a bit under him and he moved to settle more as well. My hands rested on his thighs, comfortably.

"Hey, sailor. Come here often?"

"Maybe. Maybe I just like the view."

"I'll do you one better than that," he said and winked at me. In a flash his shirt was off. Some subtle use of the Hopscotch cantrip. And then he did it again to my shirt. "How's the view now?" he teased, sitting back on my now growing cock in a knowing way.

He was in that moment, beautiful before my eyes. Tanned skin that seemed somehow to be almost glowing. The light from his awesome eyes again showing our changeling heritage with that awesome silvery color. His chest moved in the darkness, showing his muscles to great effect. He sculpted abs looked like they belonged on a much older boy, showing his hard work. I couldn't help but to run my hand across his flat stomach, to feel those rippling muscles. My hand covered his tummy and up to his chest, where his hand joined mine, holding it over his beating heart.

"Pretty fuckin' incredible," I responded and sat up under him. He was hungry and devoured me in another kiss, taking my hand in his and directing it around his hips. He sought my other hand and also brought it behind him, onto his ribs, and then embracing me. His hands were like fire as they wove in and out of my hair. I could taste the sharpness of his teeth, knew the flex and shift of his tongue as we made out.

He grew bolder and grabbed my wrist, forcing them up over my head, pressing me back to the good earth with a solid soul thumping whoosh of air out of my lungs. I looked up to see him smiling down on me, his shining eyes locked with mine. He kisses me savagely, twisting his head and mouth on mine. I barely got any air in me he kissed so forcefully.

"No words," he said simply. I could only nod at this point. He rolled off me long enough to shed his shorts. I quickly bent to match his nudity, and he was on me again. He sat astride my hips, just forward of my dick, and bent to resume our kissing. He leaned to me, arching his back and before I knew it, he had slid back onto me.

"Oh gosh, Kenny. Unngfff." I could only get that out as he slid along my length, riding it backwards. He hit bottom in that slow slide down and held still, his face twisted in joy at his efforts. I put one hand on his chest and one on his hip as he fully sheathed himself onto me. Not that I was complaining. My face was probably equally twisted in that moment. There's nothing quite like that first moment of penetration, of joining your souls. He rested, his body lurched in a curl on top of me, getting used to the feel of me inside him.

"Hey there, bright eyes," I said. He opened his hooded eyes to me and smiled down. "How you doin'?"

"Robyn," he breathed out huskily. "I'm scared."

"I am too, Kay. But nothing matters right now. Not the end of the world, the battle to come. Only you matter. Only us."

"No words," he said. "Make me feel no words."

We came three times that night. Well, I think he came at least four or five. The first time with him riding me like a pony turned legs up. After that, he let me turn him over and plow him on his back, good and proper like gay boys are supposed to fuck. Didn't even pause in between, that time. It all kind of blurs together after that, moving him around, changing positions. He was insatiable and I was just the Satyr for the job.

Our final time taking each other was slow, easily lasting a few hours, since the moon had shifted round in the sky. He lay on my after that, snuggled on my chest, my semi hardness still trapped inside him. His knees defending my ribs, my hands resting and smoothing his back. I swear every little muscle there felt like it was tense and loose at the same time.

"We should get back to the others," I whispered. His ear was right beside my lips, making talking aloud unnecessary.

"They'll be fine. I just want to stay with you a bit longer."

I giggled and flexed my body against his. "Doesn't look like I'm going anywhere. You wore me out, Kay." But his silence pierced the moment. "What is it?" I asked, holding his closer.

"I know this thing with you and Korbesh is coming to a head," he said at length. There was nothing really I could say to deny it. I'd made that oath, that one of us must die unto the Dreaming itself and it had heard me. Loud and clear. "I don't want to lose you. Not again. Not forever this time. If he ends you, that'll Undo me as well."

"Then," I said, with a kiss to his ear, "I wont lose. I can't lose." I inhaled sharply and raised my voice as we clung together. "I can not lose! Kay Neth wills it so!"

"I'm serious." He pushed up over me, causing my arms to fall to his arms. "No funny bone headed Satyr antics, okay? If you get the chance, you fuckin' kill him! You take his fuckin' head off and Undo him!" The tears fell, leaving streaks on his face, and drops on my chest. He sat there on my mostly limp dick, still inside and part of him, and cried, looking straight into my eyes.

"I swear to you, my Kenny, my Kay Neth… I swear I will end this threat to us, for good."

A distant bolt of lightning split the sky above him, above us, then. In the flash backs of the thunder rolling across the hillsides of eastern Massachusetts, I could see both aspects of him. My beautiful Eshu prince. My wonderful human lover. Both magnified and flashed in my sight. Could anything be more fantastic, magnificent and awesome to behold.

"You better," was all he said as he resumed his place on my chest, snuggling on my shoulder. "Cuz I am not going to school without my boyfriend."

"Me either."

"Well… good.

"No words, Kay."

"No word, Robyn."

"We should get back to the others." He tried to get up from my hips, but I held him down.

"Just stay with me a little longer."

"I think you are already a little longer," he giggled. "You've grown."

"You have to, ya know. I kept feeling something poking my stomach, but higher up my abs."

"You finally have abs, baby," he said, reaching under to adjust his own penis as it lay on my stomach.

"Yeah, well… gotta catch up to you sometime."

"Okay. Just a few minutes longer. You really wore me out too."

"Glad you liked it."

"Uh huhmmn, anytime, milord."

I don't know which of us passed out first but it was pretty much the two of us laying together, still hooked up when the long strands of morning fog found us in the suns earliest rays. Glorious.

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