Chapter 12 (Part 2)
The surviving members of both the Bloodstone and Gray clan were already bandaged up and sitting in the great hall by the long table, eating and resting after the fight, while the shaman of the Bloodstones was replacing the broken protective spells.
As Jim and Corey entered, the conversations died down a bit and curious – and a few slightly scared – eyes greeted them. Jim didn’t care about them as he was holding his mate’s hand. His eyes quickly jumped on their own men, quickly doing a headcount. Luckily none of them had died or got too serious wounds. Noticing Mick sitting next to Stacey, Jim nodded for him and the big demon got up to join them as they were walking towards a smaller chamber at the far right corner of the great hall from where they could feel Cristina and the surviving elders’ tense energies. To Jim’s surprise Stacey stood up too along with Mick, but then she headed into that room probably to join Cristina and tell them that they were coming. Not that it wasn’t obvious.
“Mick, we’ll need your help in packing and carrying my shit down from my old room to the van after we talked with them. It’s the room on that hallway with the three guitars in it,” he smirked for a moment. “I’ll need the cabinet too in which they are,” he grinned. “Can you handle that with a few of the guys?”
“Sure,” he said although he took a slightly longing look towards that door.
“You can say goodbye to the chick later,” he teased, patting the big guy’s shoulder then as they arrived to the door, Jim exchanged a long look with his mate before stepping in.
“Welcome. Please, sit down. First of all, I wanted to thank you in my and the clan’s name too for helping us out on such short notice. Without that we would’ve probably fallen,” Cristina said, sitting by the head of the carved black table, her eyes still a bit wide and her body tense.
“Yeah, probably would have,” Corey nodded in agreement. He was socialized and polite, but that didn't mean he had to be friendly too. “As we agreed, I and my partners in lead of the Grays,” he waved to his left at Jim and his right at Mick, noticing the bit surprised and appreciating look of Stacy who stood behind her Lady and was a bit amazed from the huge beast in all diplomat leader-mode. “And our fourth member also would give support in any witch-related cases in exchange of information. Of course you all know that this case was a set up to lure me here and trap. So that brings up a very logical question, Cristina, who is giving out info about our meetings to the witches?”
Robb’s daughter flinched a bit from Corey’s raw answer, although she knew it was true. She had to admit that without the Grays none of them would sit there. Turning a silver and black ring on her slender finger she looked from Corey to Jim and then to Mick, nodding in acknowledgement of their positions. Of course she knew about that beforehand, but Stacey and a few elders didn’t. There were five of those elders in the room, sitting and watching quietly for now. Which was something new to Cristina, because usually they chimed in with their comments and ideas even when they shouldn’t. It seemed they were just as shaken up by the power of the Grays – especially Corey and Jim’s joined one – like she was.
“That’s a question I’ve been trying to figure out since they appeared on our doorstep,” she said carefully, knowing that she was treading on thin ice and one bad move could cause her and Robb’s downfall. “The witches obviously knew about our alliance and expected you to show up,” she said on her slight Italian accent, which she got from spending years over there with her late Italian mother.
“There’s a leak,” Jim said and his voice rang clear and cold in the room, making the elders and Cristina’s breath catch, because there was still power behind that voice so soon after the mating, his lightly glowing eyes scanning the faces of the elders. “It’s intolerable.”
“True,” Mick joined in with his deep dangerously calm voice that coming from such a powerful-looking beast was something. “How can you expect us to keep this agreement if there is a great chance that we walk into a trap over and over in an attempt to keep you, or our members safe?”
“For now, can you give us any information over how this attack happened at all? Any ideas? Anyone?” Corey looked around then rested his burning blue gaze on Cristina. If she wanted to keep her position and the secret of his father she had to stand on her heel in this clan and situation. “We agreed to work together for the safety of all demons. For that tomorrow we will have a meeting with the East river clan as well, our patrols reported sightings of witches around there also.”
Jim could smell and sense his ex-lover’s nervousness as the noose was tightening around her neck. Needless to say, he agreed with what his mate and brother had said and it was written all over Jim’s otherwise closed up face. There were two from the elders – Jonathan and Victor – he never liked because of their shifty eyes and a certain vibe, although they never gave any reason for Jim to keep his distance from them. They even helped him out in the past once or twice. But their style was irritating to Jim. Could it be possible that one or both of them were the ones leaking information? Or was it the ambitious redhead, Rebecca? Or the other two? Or someone not present in this room just connected to these elders? It was impossible to tell at this point.
“I see your point, Mick,” Cristina sighed then moved her head slightly to the right to listen to what Stacey whispered to her. She nodded then looked back at their guests. Corey was intimidating with his burning blue eyes. It was he whom Cristina feared the most. It was no wonder though after what he’d done to her father and what she just witnessed upstairs. “Our shaman warned us once she felt that something was wrong with the spells and then they were on our necks even before we could really leave that hallway…” she paused then looked to the side. “Are you sure?” she asked looking back at Stacey.
“Hell yeah,” she nodded determined.
It seemed her support gave the tired-looking Cristina some power too. “We’ll do our investigations with Stacey and will use physical force too if needed. The others and Jim knows that while Jim is good in torturing with knives, Stacey is just as good with medieval torture equipment,” she said, letting the meaning of it sink in mostly for the elders. “I trust her completely. She’ll be the only contact person between our clans from now on.”
Corey nodded and the left corner of his lips curved up barely visible, nudging his brother with his knee under the table. Mick can later thank him for the shit ton of made up messages with which he will ask the guardian female to come over.
“Alright then. I would like to make this really work between us all and have a peaceful environment for a while. And if that's all, we would like to retreat,” Corey nodded towards the hall and the warriors waiting for them.
“I think that’s all for now. And good luck with the Eastern river clan. If the witches get any information about that meeting, it’ll mean the traitor was sitting here with us today,” Cristina frowned, looking sternly and warningly around. “In that case I’ll allow Jim or any of the Grays you choose to interrogate them too,” she added then rose from her carved seat.
Mick only snorted from that kick under the table, but he couldn’t stop a smirk as his eyes met Stacey’s playful ones.
This might get interesting, Jim shared his thought with Corey as they all stood and nodded as a goodbye to everyone after informing Cristina that he was taking his shit with him. As they suspected, it was her doing that everything stayed the way Jim had left them.
Stepping to Corey’s left side, Jim put a hand on his mate’s right shoulder as they went back to the great hall. After asking the others from their clan to pack their shit together into the cars, Jim, Corey and Mick headed upstairs to quickly pack whatever Jim deemed important to take with them. It took around an hour and after watching the stuff he didn’t need but also didn’t want to lay around burn on top of the pile of dead bodies, they finally headed home. He got irritated and moody from this place, even if he had the chance to mate and find some important things from his past there. He just wanted to curl up in their bed with Corey and forget this day ever happened. And maybe try to fuck him unconscious again.
In Wednesday afternoon Corey got back to the apartment and dropped down on the couch with an exhausted "ufffffff" feeling up his sleeping mate in the bed with Pauly and Gabrielle. Peeking at the kitchen it seemed Jim was kept busy with the two little ones, the little girl he probably kept close to ensure her safety. After all she was the soft spot in Shawn's heart and that was something very important.
Sending a message to Shawn about his little girl, the beast got up and focused harder on Jim to wake him up without waking the kids. They should talk over the meeting with the other clan.
True to Corey’s suspicion Jim was indeed busy with the energetic little girl who somehow managed to make the usually calm Pauly like that too. So he had to put his worries about the meeting on hold, because his hands were full with the little ones making a mess of the kitchen. But at least they managed to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Although giving them more sugar was a mistake Jim soon figured out.
Either way they finally fell asleep snuggled up to his sides during watching Labyrinth with David Bowie, which mesmerized the kids, but they’d probably have to re-watch the end, because none of them got to the end credits.
Jim slowly woke from Corey’s presence and energies lightly nudging him. Opening and blinking his eyes a few times he looked towards the couch, meeting his mate’s gaze. Getting the message he carefully got out from between the little ones and stretched his back before grabbing his pack of cigarette and by now cold coffee from the nightstand before nodding for Corey towards their music room, taking a sip from his coffee then pecking his lips as a “hi”.
“So how did it go?” Jim asked. “You look exhausted. Was it hard to get onto the same page with them?” he asked once they closed the door to the music room and Jim was smoking on the sofa.
“Oh coffee!!!!” Corey chimed in cheerful and snatched the mug from Jim with a giggle over the almost pouty face his mate made. Dropping on the couch in the music room he leaned into Jim's side, looking out onto the busy afternoon street.
“It's a bunch of old, old demons who think they are super hip and they love metal. Sooooo... It went okay and we have a solid fan base there. We even jammed with them...” Corey chuckled, turning to kiss his mate. “They know that witches are trying to sneak between their lines but they are determined and more like a closed family, like we are so they will join us to help make this area clean.”
Forgetting the light mourning over the cold coffee quickly enough, Jim put an arm around the other man’s shoulders and leaned down for that kiss before stretching his long legs out on the floor and taking another drag from his cig. Offering the rest to Cor, Jim nodded. “That’s good news. I was a bit worried about them being too thick-headed to understand the importance of this. Maybe next time we have a show, we should send them free tickets as a thanks,” he smiled a bit still sleepy.
“Also, Cristina called. She said she’ll send Stacey over probably on Friday or Saturday morning with some updates on the leak problem. She said it’ll probably take that long for Stacey to finish her interrogations. I told Mick and he kinda locked himself up in his room ever since, packing some stuff. I think he’s either cleaning out the room or searching for something he can give to her,” he grinned now. “He was really impressed by Stacey. When I teased him about it, he told me to fuck off and that the fan page reached 1000 subscribers after the updates of our public mating,” he snorted.
“Oh that… You think that it actually exists? The old folks knew about us as well and follow the pages?” Corey turned to Jim with a bit amused and bit outraged expression on his face. “But anyway, I hope we get to the lair of the witches before they try something big again…”
Puffing the cig the beast was lost in his thoughts. Somehow he always ended up at Robb and thinking about what information the ex-leader could have on the witches. After all, he brought kids from them and about thirty years ago asked for their help too. It made sense… He surely will ask him out tomorrow morning as the beast wanted to spend the rest of the evening with his mate and.. okay… closer family. “Are there any cookies left?”
“I don’t know about the old folks or if the page really exists, but I can imagine Mick actually doing it just to fuck with us. Maybe we should research it… but on the other hand I’m not sure if I want to know or not,” he laughed.
“Sooner or later we’ll get them all, baby. I know we will and then the area will be secured. For a while, at least,” he sighed feeling Corey’s thoughts taking a turn towards Robb again, which made Jim’s eyes darken a bit as he turned his face to press a kiss against the side of his mate’s head and maybe to hide his grim expression too. “Remember, I want to be there when you ask him about it,” he answered to the unspoken thought.
“Yeah, Pauly made sure I saved some cookies for you. It’s on the highest shelf in the kitchen cabinet. So you’ll probably need my help to get it, shorty,” he grinned against Corey’s head, a little teasing in his voice. “I never saw Pauly so energetic like today while playing with Gabrielle. Their personalities and powers react well to each other. They might become important members of our clan one day.”
“Giraffe...” Corey snorted playfully punching Jim's side. “Good boy, though. Yeah they really feel like two opposite that balance out nicely. And as they both get shaman training from me and Shawn, they act and feel each other like siblings. They will have to be that, they are the only shamans we have and I and Shawn will get old or not and die one day,” he laughed a little. “We have to train them well to be prepared for everything. And as I heard Mick’s little warriors are learning fast too. Let's get those cookies, I'm hungry. And Shawn just volunteered to take care of the little magic devil duo tonight. So we can go hunting... What you say? Hmm? Fresh deer? And you will be there tomorrow, I promise!”
Jim chuckled from the punch and the nickname then nodded smiling when Corey was talking about the kids. “The clan will make sure that they can grow into what they were meant to be in their life. And put that dying thing off for a fucking long time. I want to enjoy a very long time with you in this life before we move on to the next,” he stroked along his mate’s jaw-line, feeling the starting stubble there then he leaned down for a loving kiss.
“Yes, the self-defense classes are going well. I might have to help out Mick a bit during tomorrow’s session, because he wants me to talk about knives and do a small presentation with them. Of course they’d get just dull wooden knives for now, but some might prefer my choice of weapon and it’s good to give them a basic knowledge of different type of weapons. Like we agreed,” Jim mused. If they could afford, they wouldn’t teach them such things, but they were living a different, more dangerous life compared to human kids, so it was a necessary precaution. Because of men like Robb. But at least Jim was going to be there to keep an eye on him tomorrow.
“Oh, it’s nice of Shawn. I bet he missed his little girl,” Jim smiled as he got up and pulled Corey with him. “You should save those cookies for after the hunt, I think,” he grinned down at his mate as they were moving towards the door and Jim’s hand slid down onto that firm butt to squeeze it. “You’ll need the energy. I can promise you that,” he winked and stole another, this time deeper and promising kiss before they went outside to let Shawn take the now awake kids with him.
The next morning, just as he would sense something, Robb seemed to be in a very good mood as he walked in with a guard into their apartment, just as the mates finished their breakfast.
Corey slept very little during the night. The hunt was great and they brought three stags for the clan. After processing them and mating on the cold bloody metal table, Jim passed out fast after the shower. But the beast kept thinking about how to solve this all. Like his brain was trying to make him see some connection that he somehow still couldn't. With all the scenarios he kept ending up at Robb. And that made him believe more and more that the ex-leader held the key to solve this all.
Yes, he could also feel how jealous Jim got over him, but the responsibilities started to grow on the beast. Let's face it... Even though the clan was under a democratic shared leadership, everyone waited for his opinion and decisions over everything. Not that he wanted any of it, but as his personal feelings and losses got involved, he found himself in that position. So summing it all up he had to solve all of this. Damn, the clans are in danger because his – not fully used or awakened – powers.
Thinking it all over again as he stood from the counter, he sighed walking up to Robb. “Good morning. This is the time to make up for some of the things you've done before. I would like to hear what you know about these witches that have been lurking around for a while.”
Jim didn’t even react to Robb’s presence. He liked to ignore him for as long as possible. He rather busied himself with putting the dirty dishes into the sink then he poured another mug of strong coffee for himself and sat back to the table, pretending to be reading the morning paper, but time after time he glimpsed up at his mate and the worm over the black rim of his glasses.
Like always, he got a bit tense and irritated when Robb was in one room with him. He wished the previous night never ended. It was so good to hunt with his mate again and what came afterwards was even better. But now he was tired, his beast still close to the surface – who hated Robb even more than the rest of Jim, probably for forcing that side behind bars for most of Jim’s life. And now he had to tolerate his presence again… He hated his fucking guts and it was no secret. But Jim kept silent and tried to let Corey concentrate on the asshole.
“Took you long enough to ask me about them…” Robb mumbled with a half-grin.
And Jim’s blood already started boiling.
“I'm asking, it's not just this clan what is in danger. The Bloodstones and your daughter were attacked on Monday.” Corey also tensed up, but he wanted to stay more... civilized and solve this all in a peaceful manner. He was a warrior inside but felt more and more tired of all the fights and waned to rest and just have nothing to get his swords out for and be on alert all the time with the others. “So? What you know about them?”
That piece of information of the attack on Cristina and the clan at least had a little effect on Robb. The grin disappeared from his face and he looked as if he was thinking about something. Jim knew that at least he cared about his one remaining daughter and – probably – wouldn’t risk her life on purpose. The key word was “probably”.
“If I tell you what I know, I want something in return…” he raised a dark brow with challenge in his dark eyes, clearly enjoying that he had something over these demons again. He might have seen them a bit differently after the time he’d spent among them, but he still was Robb Flynn, no matter that he was collared and shackled like a slave.
“Of course you do…” Jim snorted, the newspaper’s edges slightly crinkling as his hands nearly fisted.
“It depends on what you know and what you want,” Corey said glimpsing at Jim and sending some of his calming powers over him.
“I want to move freely around and see my daughter,” Robb said but he was planning something, Corey could feel it on him. “And I know where they are hiding, or were. We can talk about that.”
Although Jim was trying really hard not to get more pissed and distract his mate, and also let Corey’s calming power do its job on him, he tossed the paper back on the table as his rage roared up unstoppable, his protective instincts screaming at him.
“Absolutely not!” he snapped, looking into the smug face of Robb before glimpsing at his mate. “You can’t seriously consider letting him walk around freely. Around the kids, for fuck sake…” he gritted his teeth together, trying to keep both his voice and anger back.
“We have to talk this over,” Corey said trying to calm Jim as he waved the guard closer. “We will consider what you want.”
That smug little grin on Robb’s face made Jim rise to his full impressive height and the asshole was lucky that sensing his anger the guard moved quickly and escorted the pest out as fast as possible.
Once he was gone, Jim glared at his mate. “You gotta be kidding me with seriously considering his offer. He might know shit or lead us right into a fucking trap. And I don’t want to see him lurking around our kids! I don’t give a shit if he sees Cristina, but I strongly oppose letting him out of those chains. He’d probably try to escape the first chance he gets.”
“But he is only human now, and what if we can end this shit for now with his help?” Yeah, Jim had a great point there, but Corey felt that he just had to find a middle way in this somehow. “We just have to know what he does...”
“I can always torture it out of him. That way we wouldn’t have to deal with his fucking terms,” Jim growled. “And yes, I know he’s human now and wouldn’t be able to take the torture I’d usually do, but I can be more subtle. I used to torture humans too for information, you know… There’s no middle way with this asshole.”
“I don't want to torture him,” Corey said irritated and lost in all this, rubbing his face and head. “I don't want any fucking torture or fight, don't you get it??? I can't… I'm trying to keep everything in hand and safe but it's no use. If the witches get the kids and sneak into our lines THAT is much more dangerous than a powerless human shit who I can track down even without focusing on it and probably can burn his mind off if he tries something. And anyway, what's the use of keeping him alive and feeding him and trying to show him a different way to see us if we just use violence and show off as exactly as he was telling you what we are when you were a kid… I will talk to him and the others more about this …”
Jim shook his head irritated too and ran a hand through his hair, making it stick into different directions. “Your idea of solving this peacefully is blinding you. I know him better than you do. Can’t you see that he’s trying to manipulate you? He always does that! He does it with everyone. Even with his daughters. I hope it won’t be too late when you realize this. But when you do, I’ll spare you my ‘I told you so’…” he growled low. “He’s trying to drive a wedge between us and as I see he’s succeeding so far. Because I see you’ve already made your decision. But when we vote on this, I won’t have your back this time.”
“I'm considering all the aspects. I have to fucking do that, because I ended up in this fucking shit and I have to solve it. It is I and my powers the witches are after,” Corey stood up staring at his mate. “You underestimate my mind-reading skills. Half a year ago you didn't know what you where, and don't forget that I hate his guts also or more for what he did. At least he gave you a home and family… You know what I am, it is so shocking that I want no more violence???”
“Then read his fucking mind! That can be done without violence too, can’t it?” Jim snorted. It’s been a very long time that he was pissed at his mate like this. Probably at the very beginning. And it hurt that they were hurting each other. “And yes, he did give me those and at the same time took it from me without thinking and then tortured me daily for more than two months just to sentence me, one of his most loyal demons, to death without thinking twice about it. Sorry if my ways about him are too violent for you,” he huffed and grabbed the keys of an old pickup from the table that he liked to drive the most. “I’m going into town,” he grunted then stormed off.
“For fuck’s sake...” Corey growled out loud and tossed a pillow at the door in frustration. Surely Jim could feel it, just the same the beast felt his mate's rage as he drove down the roads. Great maybe he will hit something and then Corey can feel even guiltier… How amazing...
Lighting a cigarette he walked to the music room and kicked around the stools and big sitting pillows, then sat by the windowsill, like when he was a kid, and just stared outside puffing the smoke.
Jim was right about the kids, of course he knew that. He wouldn't want to get the children in danger after saving and caring for them. Little Pauly felt like a son to him as well, and maybe Gabrielle as a niece.
But he wanted to end this, and keep a relatively good relation with the other clans too, exactly because of the kids. Their future will be easier if there is relative peace and cooperation between the clans. And now beside a few, no one knew about Robb and what he was and what he’d done. So if they spill it then Robb and Christina gets to be outcasts and pay for all the lies and probably be tortured for the rest of their lives. And for keeping this all and forcing the cooperation on them, it will probably strike the Grays as well… And if they torture or kill the worm without the rest knowing his sins, they can strike for that also. Probably the mind-reading will remain the only solution if he keeps to his requests. Yeah it's not even sure that he knows real useful information either.
Corey got exhausted from all the sides to count with and wanted Jim to come back and hug him...
Yes, Jim was pissed as fuck as he was driving around, trying to get further away from his mate's boiling emotions too. But of course that was never going to be really possible, because no matter how far he was from Corey, he would always feel him in the back of his mind and heart. Jim's captivity was a proof of that. There even that hiding spell couldn't fully cut him off his mate.
Huffing and puffing smoke out through the rolled down window, Jim reached the city center, having no clue where he was going. First he wanted to go to the music store to lock himself up in one of the two practice rooms where he usually taught a few human kids for extra money, but he knew that he wasn't going to be able to concentrate on jamming now, so he passed the store and drove further away from their hideout. He knew it wasn't really safe to venture out alone like this, but he was just too pissed to care now.
Of course he knew and understood Corey's point and where he was coming from, but it just made Jim's blood boil to see the very familiar way Robb was trying to manipulate his mate. And Jim couldn't believe how Cor couldn't see it. He was too wrapped up in his "peaceful, civilized" approach. But Jim knew from experience that there were people on which that angle simply didn't work. Men like Robb only understood power and violence. Jim wished he could torture that grinning fuck to death so he would finally get out of the picture, but... he had to respect his mate's wishes too. Even if some of those were utter bullshit, in Jim's opinion.
Well, no one said being mated was always a bed of roses...
Feeling the change in his mate's emotional state, Jim sighed and turned off the engine in the parking lot of the town's supermarket. He wasn't even surprised that he'd ended up there. He already knew what he had to buy.
Back home he found Cor still sitting by the window, hugging himself. With a sigh Jim dropped an extra big bag of his mate's favorite banana chips on the windowsill and without a word Jim put his long arms around him. It was his way of saying sorry.
So mind-reading it is then…
After talking over the pros and cons that bothered Corey, he killed the whole bag of that delicious banana chips just to have an excuse to moan all afternoon for hugs and belly rubs, and enjoy that Jim kept calling him a big kitten.
In the evening they called the leadership together to have more opinion over the possible information from Robb and how to get those. Mick and Shawn ended up deciding next to the mind-reading as well, so now they were on their way to the dungeon to do just that.
Of course the human scum waited for them with a smug grin, thinking that he had something over the Gray clan and the mates.
After Shawn put a light spell on him to shut him up and put the fucker in an awake yet sleep-like state, Corey sat down and focused on the brain of the human, trying to grab onto a string of thought that was connected to the witches. Using that line, he followed it up to past memories and thoughts.
As the red power of the beast shaman was swirling faster and faster around the sitting and chained human, Jim and Mick – who were always connected to Corey to some extent – looked at each other sensing all that the small beast learned from the mind he was inside.
And suddenly Corey stood up, his power going back into his body and he forced Robb awake with his mind-control. Watching the ex-leader come around with a curse about the splitting headache, he welcomed him with a huge backhanded slap that sent his human body rolling to the cell's wall.
Jim was biting his tongue. He wasn’t going to tell his ‘told you so’. He promised not to, after all. But yes, Robb was – not surprisingly – playing them. Jim was right about the manipulation. Though the most important thing they had learned, thanks to Corey, was that Robb did know about the location of the witches’ hideout. That was a huge piece of information. The last ammunition they needed to plan their final attack. Which was probably going to be their and the other clans’ biggest fight so far. But first...
“Torture the fuck out of him,” Shawn spit towards the half-conscious, groaning scum once the other shaman was informed about what they already knew.
Looking around, Jim got a nod from Mick and after a long, pissed look from his mate, Corey finally gave his blessing too.
“I’ll be right back…” Jim said and true to his words, in two minutes flat he straightened up in the cell holding his torture kit in his hand, a dark and scary smirk nearly splitting his face in half while the others were watching from the half-lit corridor for a while.
The day finally took a long-awaited turn for Jim’s own revenge. He made a mental note for himself to later fuck his mate through the mattress for letting Jim fucking finally have this moment…