Water splattered onto the stone floor and Jim was coughing some more up from his lungs, his eyes tearing up from the strain as his burning lungs were trying to pull oxygen into them. It felt as if his chest was being stabbed repeatedly as he kept coughing, the firm grip in his long wet hair never easing up.
This has been the fifth time they’ve been torturing him like this in the last more than two months and these drowning sessions felt longer and longer with each time as they were trying to break him and make him admit something he never did.
They were asking the same questions like on that first day when the Bloodstones invaded his new home and engaged them in a bloody fight. They were unprepared and Jim was such a fucking fool for not listening to the signs. He could’ve prevented all this! He could’ve prevented…
On that day they all fought with all their strength, but it quickly turned out that it was Jim they were after. And despite all the effort, they were outnumbered and overwhelmed quickly. Paul had to fight the shaman; Corey had to divide his attention in helping his mentor and fighting back the other attackers. Finally they managed to knock Jim out and drag him away. He was half-conscious when he was tossed into the back of an idling van and then they were taking him somewhere. He couldn’t see or remember where. He could only feel Corey’s panic and then unspeakable pain, making Jim come around more for a short while, mumbling his protests until he was knocked out for good. The last thing he remembered thinking was “Not Paul!” and then darkness enveloped him.
He woke in an unfamiliar dungeon, arms tied above his head and a very furious Robb sitting on a chair opposite him. For some reason he could barely feel Corey through their bond. Was something suppressing it?
“Glad you could join us, you filthy blood-traitor,” Robb spit at Jim, drawing his attention back to his former leader and the ache in his head from the blows. “By the time we’re gonna be finished with you, you’ll regret ever being born…” he snarled with a maniac light in his eyes.
Then Jim’s life of daily torture had started.
Meanwhile outside a small group gathered. Corey crouched down on a tree branch, stroking over his short hair.
In the last two months and a little more he and the small group that remained spent their time tracking down the Bloodstones one by one. By now the Earthly demon clan lost many of their leading members. The Grays were rather furious, and Corey was plain insane from all that went down that morning in their warehouse. First of all.... they killed Paul. Second... they took his mate and from the suppressed bond he felt that they have been torturing Jim daily.
After the Bloodstones broke in, Corey and Mick tried to hold them back. The fuckers brought their strongest shaman and the warriors kept the Grays up to give time and way to the two shamans to fight. Corey felt his ex-lover and mentor's goodbye to him before he was struck by a powerful spell and dropped lifeless onto the ground.
Only a handful of demons could escape with the lead of Shawn and the protection of Mick and Corey following. They had to hide like fugitives. But they never gave up.
Finally after such a long time, Corey was able to send only a vague massage to Jim that he should hang on and he would find and save him. They captured two demons that actually provided some information where the secured cellars were. And now nothing could stop Corey, Shawn and Mick to get their guitarist back.
“Admit it, Jimmy that it was you!”
“No… I’d never…” he protested weakly then cried out painfully as salt was rubbed by a demon into one of the many cuts on his back. His body was working overtime again in an attempt to heal him, but he would’ve needed more sustenance and probably Corey’s presence too to be able to heal as fast as he could before he was kidnapped.
“Don’t you fucking lie to me, you filthy animal! You were lifted into a special position. I trusted you and then one of my daughters wasn’t enough for you, was it? You lured Sarah out into the forest and when she said no you raped then murdered her!”
“That’s… not true…” Jim lifted his tired and burning eyes, trying to ignore the fucking painful stinging in his wounds. “She… was my friend. It was the witches… and their demon allies…”
“I see they brainwashed you too in that filthy clan…” Robb snorted and stood from his chair, nodding to Jim’s torturer who unhooked the chain that kept Jim upright then kicked the back of his knee to make sure the tall man fell onto the hard and cold stone floor in front of Robb’s boots. From one of which stepped on his chained forearm to keep it in place.
Jim looked up at him with a pleading eye, watching as he lifted his walking stick and twisted the top to pull out the poisoned blade. “Please, Robb. You know that I never lied to you…”
“It’s hard to believe it. You were probably planning this all along. Turn your back on those who took you in and gave you a home… And for what? A filthy and disgusting animal and his little friends. Oh yes, I know. One of my shaman trainees brought me proof to these things. Photos and videos from your little gig. Tell me, how does it feel to be fucking mated to such a pest? Do you enjoy rolling with him in the dirt?” he spit disgusted and put more of his weight on Jim’s wrist as he closed the tip of his blade to Jim’s hand.
“I swear I didn’t know him before you ordered me to torture him…”
“At which you spectacularly failed… Now… admit your sins or you’ll learn how it feels living with a paralyzed hand. I bet that is quite a nightmare for a guitarist like you. Not like you’ll ever hold a guitar in your hand again.”
“Please, Robb… You know I could never hurt her or do any of this on purpose. Listen to reason. The witches want you to clean up for them before they come after you,” Jim swallowed hard. Of course he didn’t want to lose his arm, but at the same time he couldn’t admit something like this either.
“I see you made your choice,” the bearded man smirked down at him then Jim felt a piercing pain in the soft flesh between his thumb and index-finger.
Jim cried out from the burning pain that spread from that wound, making him want to scratch his own skin off, but his painful cries were cut short as Robb’s walking stick suddenly made contact with his jaw, making him see stars from the force of it. He slid a few inches on the bloody stones and then he didn’t move.
Robb walked over and pushed the seemingly unconscious man with his boot. “Put him back into his cell for now. In the morning when I come back I'll end his misery. I'm done with all the half-breeds. No more we will experiment on trying to make something useful out of them. I guess from trash you cannot make anything else just trash,” he spit next to Jim's head while he spoke to his helpers.
Another higher ranked demon stepped forward to reply. “I will prepare your tools for the morning then, My Lord. But what about that young half-blood we keep here next to this animal? They seemed to be talking at nights... And so far we couldn't put our mind block on that one, or break it with torture. This means you will end him as well?”
“I'm not wasting any more time on these scums,” Robb added with a nod, meaning a yes and he left the chamber while the helpers dragged Jim back to the small cellar and locked him up good.
The end for him and the lurking beast in the other cell's shadow seemed to be getting close.
Jim wasn’t fully unconscious a few hours ago when he overheard his former leader’s conversation with his helpers. What he heard frightened him, because it would mean his and Jay’s life would end the next morning. Although sometimes during the torture sessions he wished they’d just kill him at last, now as he was lying in the dark hole into which they’d dragged his bloody and dirty body to lay in the filth (where he belonged, according to his captors), Jim didn’t want to die. Not before he’d see his mate at least one more time.
Also, Robb just confirmed what he’s been trying to avoid. He was indeed a half-breed. Corey was right all along. Jim didn’t know why he tried to deny the obvious. Oh yeah, the mind-block on which he’s been trying to work, figuring that maybe that was one of the reasons why he felt his mate so faintly. Maybe if he managed to break it, the hiding spells wouldn’t be so strong on their bond and Corey would be able to find him and maybe save him. If he got there in time.
That meant causing himself mental pain too next to the physical that was inflicted on him by his torturers. But he’s been working on it as much as his limited strength allowed him. But now… now he had to do it again, because he and Jay, the young demon in the next chamber, were running out of time. If the Grays wanted to find them – which they did, Jim could sometimes see fragments of that through the bond – they had to hurry the fuck up.
So Jim rolled onto his side and curled around his bleeding hand that was going numb and useless against his chest. He tried not to think about that. Instead he forced himself to try and remember his past, that brunette faceless woman he’d seen once after bonding with Corey.
He pushed himself until he felt like his head was gonna split in two and then he pushed some more until his brain just shut off, not being able to take the piercing migraine anymore.
The next time he came around it was from a cool touch of a damp cloth on his forehead while a gentle hand was holding the side of his head. He could feel thighs under his head as he inhaled the familiar feminine scent. “I knew you’d come…” he whispered hoarsely, forcing his good eye open. The other was still somewhat swollen shut from a black-eye he got the day before. He stopped trying to count the wounds on his body a long time ago.
“Of course,” the woman said softly.
“He’s gonna kill me and Jay tomorrow.”
“I know…” her voice failed her. “I… can’t help more. I’m sorry, Jimmy. My loyalty lies with my father. He’s all I’ve got left."
“Yes… I know you did everything you could. You risked your life every time you came here. You helped enough, Cristina.”
The black-haired woman couldn’t say anything just sniffed then caressed Jim’s face and two months old beard, a few silent tears sliding down on her pale face.
Outside the beast could feel the sharp pain his mate gone through, then nothing. These, even if hiding in the shadows, made him growl out. Not Jim too... They were so close now. Fucking Bloodstone clan!
The place seemed like some old abandoned forest cabin. But to those who messed with magic the leaking powers spoke volumes. There was an underground tunnel and a stone-built dungeon under to keep prisoners hidden away.
Mick stood guard while Corey and Shawn broke the protecting spell and they all started to get closer to the little wooden shack. Swords ready to fight.
Cristina came back later with some clean cloths and antiseptics as well as some water and energy bars. She couldn’t smuggle in much more, but Jim was grateful for all the help he could get while he was cradling his numb right hand, trying to breathe evenly, worry and pain tightening his chest as he was thinking about the following morning. Meanwhile Cristina was cleaning his wounds, her hands and clothes getting bloody too, but she didn’t seem to mind.
By then Jim’s migraine didn’t seem to ease up. It was a constant pain in the back of his mind. He knew he was close to breaking the mind-block, he just needed a little push, but he felt so fucking exhausted and drained he didn’t seem to be able to muster up that strength, even if he was so damn close.
Instead he tried to reach out for Corey through the bond, telling him that he was sorry and also said the only thing he didn’t dare to say before he was taken. As Jim was losing hope that he’d ever see his mate again, he thought maybe the message would go through their weakened bond before he dies.
“No…” Corey muttered closing his eyes for a split second as they cut down the last guard on the ground level. He felt Jim's goodbye and that was something that twisted his heart and soul so painfully he never imagined that he could ever feel such and ache. Of a bad kind... Roaring up as he led the others down the stairway, he was trying to contact Jim about them coming and almost there and he should not give up…
By the time they reached the cellars his clothes were spotted with Bloodstone blood, marking their way down with dead bodies. Putting his bloody blades into their sheath over his back he looked over the small cells finding them empty one after the other, until he felt his weak mate behind the bars of the one on the corner.
Using his magic skills and physical force he opened the door and cradled the worn body up from the dirty floor, calling Jim desperately as he caressed the sticky beard and pale face.
Jim thought he felt Corey nearby but then it was possibly just his exhausted and aching mind playing tricks on him as he was drifting between being awake and unconscious. A few bitter teardrops slid into his hairline, trying to remember his mate’s face.
The line between Cristina’s brows deepened as worry etched itself onto her pretty face. Jim was dying. Her attention shifted to the yells and sounds of fighting down the hallway and she sighed relieved. They were coming for the tall demon. She just hoped they’d make it this far.
As she finished cleaning the salt out of an ugly gash on Jim’s side and heard the approaching footsteps, she stood and dropped the bloody cloth from her hand, backing against a wall with her bloody palms held up in front of her to signal that she meant no harm.
The cell’s door burst open the next moment and she saw as a short demon ran in and dropped onto his knees to cradle the barely alive body to his. It was Jim’s mate she’d heard so much about. Then she found herself facing a huge demon holding the sharp edge of a double bladed battle axe a breath away from her throat.
Meanwhile Jim thought he’d smelled Corey’s intoxicating scent in his nose. Mixed with blood. Always the blood, he chuckled mentally. But then he heard him calling his name so desperately. Was he really there? Were his caresses on his face and beard real? One way to find out, right?
Forcing his good eye open, first he didn’t recognize the face so close to his. He expected long colorful hair and a clean-shaven face. Instead the man leaning over him had short red hair and beard. As realization hit him, a piercing pain stabbed him between his eyes and his whole body arched as he cried out loud and painful, the mental block shattering into pieces. It felt as if his mind was melting and Jim expected his brain to flow out of his ears in any moment.
Of course that didn’t happen. Instead he saw memories. The face of his mother and father, pictures of a little town in the mountains, a memory about the shaman clan’s house, a red-haired woman rocking a ginger baby in her arms in front of that house before Jim was called back to play with the other half-breed friends he had…
“It’s you…” he reached up with his good left arm to touch Corey’s neck and claim mark. “It’s you!” Jim repeated, laughing nearly hysterically, his throbbing brain a mess.
“What about this one?” Mick asked, nodding towards the motionless female. “He reeks of Jim’s blood,” he growled, obviously thinking that Cristina was the one who delivered the latest torture to Jim.
“Don’t… don’t hurt her. She was helping me. Let her go,” Jim mustered up enough strength to talk coherently and glimpse at Mick and Cristina. “Please.” Then he looked back at his mate, his vision blurring as he ran his long fingers through the short red beard. “There’s another. A half-breed. Jay. In the next cell. They were gonna kill us tomorrow morning. Save him. He’s a good kid,” he muttered before his hand fell from Corey’s face and he fainted.
“Fuck...” Corey mumbled holding Jim close to his body and kissed his temple. The pain coming from the breaking of the mental block was huge and he also felt it. They had to get out of there.
“Leave her then. Get the kid and let's get out of here,” he growled, dragging Jim’s much bigger body up over his back while Shawn grabbed the legs. While Mick easily broke down the door to Jay’s cell with his axe, Corey looked over to the female and nodded a "thanks" before leaving that damned place.
Once out in the relative safety of the forest they stopped to ask out the young half-breed and rest a little while Corey and Shawn covered their tracks. The walk to the van wasn’t long and the hideout got strengthened with new spells. None of them were able to leave that place abandoned.
Finally Corey could lay his mate down in their bed. He examined and treated the wounds with balms and spells using all his powers till he also dropped down exhausted, sleeping next his man.
Jim jerked awake disoriented, his head still hurting but less than in the dungeon. His heart started beating fast as fear gripped it in the darkness. Where was he? What’d happened? How long was he out this time? His breathing quickened as panic started rising in him. He wanted to lift his right hand to cover his mouth, but it didn’t respond to his command and stayed motionless on his stomach. That only fuelled his panic that was starting to choke him.
His aching body was shaking and breaking out in sweat, and he nearly choked on a breath when someone moved next to him in the darkness.
“No, please… No more…” he panted on a broken voice. He couldn’t bear more pain. He’d reached his limit. He was going to die in the morning anyway. Why wouldn’t they finally leave him alone?!
Jim shielded his eyes with his left hand as the lamp on the nightstand was flicked on. And then a familiar scent finally registered in his messed up brain. Corey.
“Wake up! Jim you're safe now. Look at me. Please… Babe...” Corey called the panicking man in a low and worried voice. “You're safe now. I will heal you,” he kept saying, caressing his mate's face.
As Jim’s eyes finally focused onto his mate’s face he tried to take deep breaths to calm down. He focused on the familiar blue eyes of his mate and let his energies and touches relax him some more. “Corey…” he said hoarsely and wrapped his good arm around him to pull him close, not caring about his still healing wounds. He needed his mate close to him right now.
Burying his face into the crook of his neck, right above his scarred bite mark, Jim took a few ragged breaths, a few teardrops sliding down his face. He couldn’t describe how it felt to finally holding his mate in his arm after such a long time. “I thought I’d never see you again. But you saved me. You came for me…” he whispered. “Thank you.”
“I've told you that I will protect you. I'm sorry they took you in the first place. I should have read the signs better...” Corey said holding Jim strong to him and rubbing his bearded face to him as his own tears escaped his eyes. “I thought you'd give up or get killed before we find you,” he whispered stroking the longer brown hair, letting his energies cover and heal and calm Jim.
“No… it’s my fault too. I should’ve listened to the omens… the visions I’ve got. But I was just too happy with you… I didn’t want to… Still, if I did pay attention, Paul would be still alive,” he sniffed into Corey’s neck, more tears escaping his eyes. “I’m so sorry about him too…” he fisted his hand in his mate’s T-shirt on his back.
“I was very close to giving up and being executed, yes…” he sighed. “What about Cristina? And Jay? Are they okay?”
“Yes... We lost Paul…” Corey breathed slightly stiffening as he bit his lip and more tears slid down his face. “We left the female there and Jay is here with Shawn. He seems to be a drummer too,” he added. “Who was that woman anyway? She was covered with your blood...”
Jim held his mate closer for a few moments. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be here to help you in your mourning.” He knew Corey would understand that Jim didn’t mean just the emotional support, but helping to deal with his beast, who probably went berserk after losing his ex-lover and nearly losing his mate too.
“Yes, during the quiet of the night when it was just the two of us down there, we talked. He told me about drumming. We kept the hope alive in each other. He was snatched a few years ago from his family and they wanted to brainwash him too. Like he did it with me…” he sniffed then sighed and pecked Corey’s claim mark. “Cristina is Robb’s older daughter. The last remaining blood-relative he has. She was that ex-lover I told you about. The one who went on tour in Europe. She’s a singer. Also, she snuck in to tend my wounds or bring some food and water whenever she could. That’s what she was doing and that’s why she was covered in my blood.”
“Oh... I see. And... what have you two decided on, I mean now after you've met… What now?” the beast asked with slight jealousy in his words. He couldn't help it. He almost lost his mate and that... female... could be there to console him and touch his wounded body... Damn it. He hated the Bloodstones now even more…
Jim could feel it in the way Corey’s body slightly tensed and also through their bond that was slowly getting stronger now that it wasn’t blocked and the beast’s energies were still wrapped around his wounded body, healing it. “No need to be jealous, baby,” he whispered, lightly rubbing Corey’s back then he pulled away to rest his throbbing head back against the pillow. “We broke things up before she left for the tour. Also she understood that I’m mated to you now. She’d never try to do something to mess things up between you and me. She’s nothing like her father. She has a kind, loyal and caring heart. Sadly she couldn’t help me escape, because Cristina’s loyal to her father, but otherwise helped me wherever and whenever she could. Please, don’t hate her. She doesn’t deserve it. Also… I only want and need you, my beast,” he met his mate’s blue eyes.
Jim forgot for a moment that his right hand was useless now, which made him grimace and swallow hard when he couldn’t move it to caress Corey’s blondish-red beard, so he did that with his other hand. “You look completely different. I love it. Suits you better, if you ask me…” he said softly. “So this is what you tried to hide despite the white skin and fair hairs on your body,” he smiled up at him, trying to distract Corey. And yes, Jim could feel himself fall a bit more in love with his redheaded mate.
“I loved the blue-red hair, though...” Corey shrugged but eased up and leaned his face at the caressing hand. “I promise I will try not to hate her then... But yes, I'm the last that remained from that beast clan by now. And whoever knew about my kind of shamans can spot me and know what I am… Or what I was born to be… I'm not near as good with magic or any shaman stuff than with tracking down something to gut it out. But if I came this far and found people accepting me, plus found my mate, I would want to stay alive for it. Not to be killed ‘cause they think I am anything close to what my parents and ancestors were,” he rubbed his short strawberry blond hair. “But with what happened I got tired of hiding,” lifting Jim's numb hand he took a close look at the scar. “A few days and you can use it again as before. But the scar will remain. Remind me to do something special to Robb for this when I find him...”
“Thank you,” he said for trying not to hate Cristina. “I’ve got used to that hair too, don’t get me wrong… but I like this better. It’s so… dunno… Hot,” Jim snorted, feeling a bit better now that he was back at home with his mate so close. He used to dream about this and he felt damn lucky that it wasn’t just a dream anymore. Yes, he came close to death, but he was saved by this amazing demon. Gratefulness and love took place in his eyes – yes, in both since Corey’s balms and powers worked fast on the minor injuries and now Jim could see with both eyes.
“You don’t have to hide from anyone. Especially not from me. I want all of you. Once I get better, I promise to keep you safe from harm too. I don’t want you to hide yourself. I want you to be proud of what you are. As I’m proud to be a half-breed and your mate. I remember you, you know… and your mother. She was kind to me. I remember her holding you as a baby in front of your house. I was maybe around 3. Not long after that the town was attacked, my parents and many others killed and I was taken by the Bloodstones. There were many other kids. My friends too. But very few of us survived what they did to us…” he sighed heavily then looked down at Corey as he was examining his limp hand.
“You sure? I’ll be able to use it again?” he gasped for air, feeling as if a huge weight was being lifted from his shoulders. He didn’t dare to think about how he’d play the guitar if he only had one functioning hand for the rest of his life. Probably he wouldn’t and the band would have to search for someone else. But now Corey gave back hope to him in so many ways. “And I don’t give a shit about the scar. I’ll cover it up with a tattoo or something. I just want my hand back. I want to play in our band. We should do this band thing seriously. We need something to hold us together. And what else than music would be able to do that? We need time to heal and focus and working on an album might be the best way, don’t you think? Of course we can deal with the Bloodstones and witches too meanwhile.”
“I know what you mean. Music was what tamed this beast too… Well, kinda... And yes, your hand will be better maybe by tomorrow even. I just... I just don't know now how to make music or play or... anything about music... But the others. They are on the same track as you are. So... you all might as well form a band and I'll watch…” Corey shrugged.
He wasn't into the idea at all. Yes, he knew it was a great idea. That Paul wanted them to carry on. And Corey especially ever since he was told by Paul’s father that he should sing more and write out his feelings and thoughts. He did everything for that. He was raised to be a hunter in the maze and then here in this house he was shown music and he wanted to learn to read and write and play the instruments. What Paul and the Gray clan gave him was something new. Good feelings and the sense of doing something well and good. And not for killing and not getting pain as reward. He learned that not just pain got him that high good feeling, and all of that was because the Grays’ were teaching him music and were encouraging him.
“I'm sorry. I just don't know right now...” he muttered, closing up in his thoughts.
His other half was watching him intently, paying attention to the tiniest details on Corey’s face and in his aching soul through their rebuilding bond. Jim knew that his mate was still in pain because of losing Paul. He could understand why. The Grays gave so much to Corey and probably saved him from becoming a mindless killing machine until someone stronger came along and crushed him to death. Jim was going to be eternally grateful for Paul and his father, even if he didn’t know the latter one. Because without them he wouldn’t have met his mate. Like ever. He wouldn’t be able to try helping on him like Corey was trying to help on Jim.
Jim remembered Paul’s words about leaving Corey in good hands. He probably saw his own death in a vision or just felt that his time was close and that’s why he became so secretive before the attack. If Paul was there, he’d probably tell them that he was okay with how things have turned out, because it was the will of the universe or something… Still, it was damn hard for those who stayed behind to keep fighting for their cause.
Jim rubbed the back of Corey’s head and nape soothingly. “Baby, you don’t have to decide now. Take your time, okay? First I need my hand back and I’ll probably have to practice a lot to be able to play like I used to. Then more rehearsals with the guys should happen. I’m curious about Jay. Maybe he could replace that ass Shawn,” Jim chuckled a bit, trying to lighten the mood a bit.
“Shawn is already planning to do new projects and play percussion and add like an... old horror classics theme so we can write and act out our darker side. He’s even talking about masks to have a ‘total transformation’ to our alter ego… But there is no bass player, so... You will like the shit they all came up with,” Corey smiled down at Jim and leaned close to finally kiss his mate after more than two months.
“Those are good ideas…” Jim started to say, but then went silent from that smile and expression and closed his eyes, lifting his chin a bit to meet Corey’s lips that much sooner. The second their mouths touched, the throbbing in his head eased a bit and Jim’s heart leaped in his chest while inhaling Corey’s smell deeply through his nose.
It felt as if they were waiting for this kiss for an eternity. Jim caressed his mate’s nape as he licked along the seam of his mouth to coax it open and let their tongues finally meet. It was far from the wild bruising kisses they so often gave each other. This one was slow, gentle and deep. Just what they both needed after such a long time forced to be apart.
Corey gently caressed the bearded face of his mate, his red powers leaking into Jim and healing his brain and body faster, sending all those emotions through their bond that the beast was unable to say out loud just yet to his mate as they were kissing long and slow. Corey laid next to Jim and slightly on his chest after they pulled apart. Just needing the closeness of the bigger body.
With his good arm around Corey’s back he held him close, his mate’s taste lingering on his lips and those… beautiful feelings Jim could feel coming from his mate made him close his eyes and cherish them. Needless to say that he returned those feelings. After all, he’d sent them to Corey when he thought he was going to die.
The comfortable silence was stretching between them as they were both healing from each other’s presence and energies, even if physically only Jim was injured.
“I love you too, my beast,” Jim finally whispered, not wanting to hold it back anymore. He didn’t mind if Corey wasn’t ready to say it yet. He was ready to say it after getting so close to dying and he wanted to make sure his mate knew it in case something else happened to them.
“I... Thank you... I... Me too…” Corey whispered trying to hide away into Jim's bigger body. His face turned red and his heart almost jumped out. These he didn't feel so often. But no matter, he couldn't say the words. He hoped Jim was okay with how he sent the feelings to him. “Sorry...”
“Don’t be. I know,” Jim ran his fingers along Corey’s skull then started drawing soothing circles on his temple, a small smile playing on his lips. He kept up his stroking until his still exhausted body and the feeling of being safe and protected, thanks to Corey’s powers, made Jim drift off into a healing sleep.