They were fucking gone. Yes, fucking gone. He could use swear words – especially in his head. As the fog slowly dissolved in the air and he saw only Sid starting to panic and run around, Pauly’s chest tightened and his lips pressed together painfully. He wanted to cry out, but he stayed silent, trying to burn every detail into his mind for later and maybe to work through the shock of not knowing what happened to his dads and Jay. He hoped as hell that they were okay somewhere… That the portal didn’t take them into the middle of a volcano or something…
“Fuck!” he voiced his sudden anger and then jumped off from the tree by the mouth of that alley where he’s been hiding and following the happenings. He should’ve warned Corey to stop the chanting when he got that bad feeling, but officially he wasn’t supposed to be that close to action. Not that anyone would’ve been surprised that he snuck after them again. He’s been doing that along with Gabrielle since he was 11 and Gaby 10.
“Gaby…” Paul remembered, his powers already searching for the girl. It took only a minute to calm down enough and feel her in the other direction. At least that meant she was still here. Maybe the others under Shawn’s leadership didn’t break the circle in the end. Maybe they were cleverer than Pauly’s stupid dads!
Grunting he took off running towards the direction from where he could feel Gaby. Only he and Shawn were allowed to call the fierce girl like that. “Get a grip of yourself!” he scolded himself and pushed that thought aside to be able to think about ways how they could bring those three back.
He got there just when Chris and the still panicked Sid told the others that the mated pair and Jay were gone. Both Shawn and Gabrielle’s eyes fell on Pauly’s figure stepping out from the darkness with a pale and grim expression.
“We have to bring them back,” he announced on a determined voice, talking more to Gaby than anyone else.
"We will, Pauly. But right now we should know what the fuck happened. And how the fuck Sid lost them from sight??" Shawn was trying his best to hold back his rage that started to build up inside him. How the hell even??? "The others are bringing some hostages we can ask out but I guess it's too late anyway. It was probably a trap." The grey bearded guy sat down devastated and was just looking at the ground and reaching out one of his hands as a silent request for a hug from his daughter.
Which he got from the blond girl as Pauly's dark eyes fell on the still shaken up and kinda guilty-looking Sid. "It's not his fault. I saw it all. It was indeed a trap, Shawn," he frowned looking down at the hugging two. His mind was now surprisingly clear, analyzing what he'd seen and what they should do. "It was to draw them in and once the spell was activated, it sucked them to... somewhere. I should've stopped them..." he sighed, trying not to show his pain, but Gabrielle probably knew him too well – and could feel some of what he was feeling, because despite not being able to sync their powers all the time, they still reacted to each other.
"We don't have any time to waste. We have to investigate that circle. Don't do anything about this one until we learn more. It's too risky. Gaby, will you come help me to take a look at this one?" he asked but didn't wait for an answer just moved towards the not activated circle, calling forth his powers to try and test what kind of magic was used there.
"No, Pauly! Stay away from that shit!" Shawn stood up practically yelling at the kid. "I don't even know how to tell this all to Mick. I don't need you two to be in any danger. You two go back home with Sid and Chris and the hostages. I inspect the runes and follow you all a bit later," he said in a "no objections" type of voice he always used to shut up everyone.
The teen froze mid-step and pulled his hand back before it could touch the invisible lingering energies of the dormant circle. He turned around to glare at Shawn with his swirling emotions. They didn't have time for this now, but seeing the older demon's eyes and hearing his voice, Paul pressed his lips together and with some huffing marched past the others, not looking at anyone just heading into the direction of their home.
"Good boy… Gaby, you go too and keep an eye on him. Now I ask you to stop him from anything stupid," Shawn turned to the girl who bit her lip and nodded. It was indeed a turn of events when she might have to hold back Pauly. She thought it was better if she didn’t comment and went to catch up with her almost brother.
After all, even the fights and differences couldn't make them feel otherwise. They were the two shaman trainees and their powers always reacted to each others’. She always thought of the much calmer and thoughtful boy as her brother. And seeing her brother like this was making her heart ache too, beside the pain she clearly felt through their powers. They had to figure out something. Maybe she could steal some of those old books on summoning from the old leader, Paul's room...
That damn Shawn… What if they were in danger? What if they were already dead? But no, he couldn’t think like that. They had to be fine wherever they ended up. Stupid spells! Stupid enemy! Why did they have to fuck up things for their clan? They didn’t hurt anyone unless it was necessary. They were leading a relatively peaceful life. And Paul loved his family. He still couldn’t remember his original one. Not even after all these years. He only remembered how they were chained together and how scared he was and that it was so cold in the dungeons. But then the now disappeared demons came and saved them. They took them in, gave them a home and a loving, warm and strong family. They kept training them to be able to defend themselves… And two of them practically became Paul’s dads.
Despite all the pouting and huffing, Pauly loved them deeply and seeing them disappear made him hurt like hell. He didn’t want to stay alone – although that would never really happen with a clan of such size, but still. Corey and Jim were his closest family. He didn’t want to lose his family again…
“You know I won’t stop trying, right?” he looked at Gabrielle once Sid and Chris “dropped them off” by the mated pair’s door. Glimpsing around, Paul lightly grabbed her arm and pulled her into the empty apartment, looking into her blue eyes in the half-light. “Gaby, I need your help. This clan needs them back. I need them back…”
"You know that I would help you in anything Pauly," the girl looked back smiling into the dark, almost black eyes. "I already was thinking about that book in Paul Gray's room. You know… the summoning ritual one. I could steal that with the keys from my dad. Maybe we can figure out something. Did you memorize the runes?"
"Thanks," he shortly squeezed her arm then let it go to start pacing in the living room area, rubbing the back of his neck while thinking. "Yes, yes, that's a brilliant idea, Gaby!" he nodded, his mind running a mile a minute. "I'm sure there are some stuff in that book that we can use. I know where my dads keep their ritual stuff. We can use their supply if we find something useful," he said, talking faster than she'd probably ever heard him.
"Yeah, I can remember the runes, especially if I see them again. Wait a sec..." he looked around and walked to the kitchen table, rummaging in the pile of lyrics until he found a clean paper and a pen then quickly drew up the five runes along the edge of the magic circle. "They looked something like this and kept glowing a few moments longer after they were gone," he explained, his long fingers playing with the pen absently. "We should steal the book once most of them are asleep, although I bet there'll be more guards posted outside after what just went down..."
"I can sneak past them. You know that," Gabrielle gave the boy a naughty smug smirk. She tried to keep her cool and support Pauly with staying calm… Okay, calmer. But she kinda enjoyed the way they could plot something sneaky. Couldn't help it, always was the wilder one living off the thrill. "Please try to calm down a little. I go back to Shawn's place and take the keys and I think he has a book too that could help. I'll bring that too and meet you here at midnight. Okay like that?" she asked, hugging Pauly. She had to go back otherwise they won't get Shawn off their heels.
With a sigh to that smirk Paul nodded. Yes, if anyone could sneak around like that then it was the short Gabrielle. "Calm down a little? Pfft... That's likely to happen..." the boy huffed full of sarcasm but tried to take a few deep breaths to do so. She was right, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself. He had to get his cool back to be able to think clearly. "Okay, fine. I'll try to play some guitar to calm down," he gave in to Gaby – as usual. "And yes, we can meet up at midnight. It's only two hours 'till then," he nodded, pulling back from the hug that turned out maybe a bit longer and tighter than he expected, but it was a nice feeling nonetheless.
Meanwhile Chris headed towards Mick and Stacey's room, but spotted the couple in one of the living areas where the clan members could mingle and talk. Mick was standing by the window in his usual intimidating pose, while his by then wife shot worried looks at him time after time. The black-haired woman turned towards the door the second Sid and Chris stepped in with grim expressions.
"What is it now?" Stacey stood from the couch where she's been sitting.
"It's about Corey, Jim and Jay..." he started, thinking that it'd be easier on Shawn if he didn't have to tell these two. That sentence caught Mick's attention too and as he turned around, his face was unusually serious, blue eyes cutting through the room like sharp knives.
"Don't make me spank it out of you, Chris..." Mick warned him half-serious.
"The magic circle sucked them up. We don't know where they are now. Everyone else is fine. Shawn's examining the circle. A few of the guys protecting him. The rest came home. I'm sorry, man..."
It took the huge demon a few long breaths to cope with the news. Still his face turned to a nice reddish color as he opened his mouth and the words rolled out unstoppable and loud. "WHAT THE FUCK?? AND YOU TWO! YOU WERE THERE TO LOOK AFTER THEM. WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO, MOTHERFUCKERS?? YOU LOST MY BROTHER I SWORE TO NEVER LET GO!!" Mick was out of his mind and started to march towards Sid and Chris, the only thing stopping him was the small female – his wife – practically clinging to the wide muscular body to stop him.
“Easy, baby, easy...” Stacey held him tighter, ready to use more force if necessary, but Mick stopped his frankly scaring power walk towards the shaking other two. The female warrior didn’t look to check on Chris, but she could clearly feel and hear Sid freaking out again. “They probably did all they could. Look at me, look at me!” she slid her small hands up onto the bearded face and kinda forced Mick to meet her eyes. “They’re gonna be fine. We’ll figure out a way to save them. I’m sure Shawn is already working on a plan. We’ll get them back,” she kept talking to him until her husband’s attention was fully on her. “You’ll get your brother back, baby. I promise. We just have to wait what Shawn learns then talk over our options…”
Turning her head to look at the other demons now that she knew Mick wasn’t going to tear their limbs off, she saw how pale and fucked up Sid looked so she nodded towards him, addressing Chris. “Why don’t you escort your friend to his room? He could use some rest,” she winked at the grateful Chris.
"Yeah… Yeah, come on Sid. Mick, I'm sorry. We all love them, you know," Chris said hugging Sid's shaking shoulders and walked him out of the room.
"I fucking hope they get back," Mick huffed hugging Stacy strongly to himself.
"They will..." she squeezed her man too. "Come on, baby, let's just sit down here for a while, okay?" she suggested, leading Mick to the couch and once he sat down, she sat on one of his thighs to hug the wide body with her seemingly tiny but muscular arms. She was worried too, but now her top priority was to keep her husband relatively calm and comfort him a bit until Shawn got back.
Shawn did get back and was heading exactly toward them.
"I just passed the others. Sorry man. I will bring them back whatever it will take. I promise I’ll try my best! We looked around and captured two witches. Stacy, you're in charge to get whatever you can out of them. I will go over to the East Rivers and ask their old shamans about the symbols," Shawn said it fast, his tired eyes already got more dark circles under it.
He wanted to look determined and collected but inside he was also freaking out. Not even knowing how to cope with it all. Corey has always been like his son, he always kept a close eye on the not much younger beast, but now Corey was gone with his half-blood mate and now he and Mick were in charge. "Get yourself together, Mick. We are in lead while they're gone. Look after the rest, please, while I’m out," he patted his friend's shoulder then went to check on Gabrielle.
Mick knew his brother was right and when Stacey jumped up, her mind already clearly set on torturing everything out of those bitches, Mick stood from the couch too, patting Shawn’s shoulder back. “Roger that. Wifey will take care of the torture business and I’ll put up more guards around the perimeter and talk to the other clan members. But don’t go alone. Take at least three with you,” he warned his friend.
The big demon leaned down to peck his wife’s lips once then they all took off to do their duties. Damn fan and damn shit… They should totally learn how to keep themselves fucking separated…
Gabrielle couldn't wait for Shawn to stop. The demon shaman was not home for long but he kept talking about safety and how she should not follow Pauly, ‘cause he was sure that Pauly would try something. But Gaby was too important to him and Shawn even showed how much he was worried for her. The girl felt sorry for the adults, but even sorrier for Pauly.
So, after the building went quiet, she sneaked up to the old room of the previous leader. She knew he was a great man and he and his father saved a lot of slave kids and was very close to Corey too. That was clear even now as the beast treated the room and Paul's memory with so much love and tenderness. Also, they learned that Pauly was similar in nature to that Paul they named after him. Gaby smiled thinking about that as she closed the door behind her as silently as she could. Looking over the room she could swear that she could feel him. The memory of how proud Pauly was for so long and bragged about his inherited name, and how it meant that Corey loved him special was vivid in her memory. He was so adorable and even the girl felt proud of him.
She walked around the dark room respectfully. Even bowed to the little altar where Paul used to talk to the spirits. He was still around…
"I'm sorry... But I know you loved Corey… and even Jim. Now they are in danger. I promise I bring the book back…" she whispered to the room, hugging the book to her chest and the sudden warm and good feeling rushing over her told her that Paul agreed. Bowing again and saying a thank you she left the orchid-scented room and hurried to Pauly.
Meanwhile said boy was sitting in his dads’ music room that they often called their sanctuary. After Gabrielle had left, he checked out all the books he could think of that might help, but there was nothing similar in them what he saw in that alley. So true to his promise, he picked up Jim’s favorite black and red guitar that Corey had built for him all those years ago and started focusing on his playing. After a while his worries and stirred up emotions seemed to calm down a bit as music took over his body and mind.
Without noticing he’d started playing that recurring riff again that he’s been playing for weeks now. He even heard it playing in his dreams.
He looked up an hour later only when he sensed Gabrielle standing in the door. He let the last tunes resonate through the air as his nearly black eyes looked up from the heavy book pressed against her chest to her face, examining it and her energies for a moment. “He supports our idea,” he said quietly, obviously meaning the late Paul. “Good. Let’s get to work,” he stood up, putting the guitar on its stand and walked to the girl to take the book after a half-hug and a kiss on the top of her head as a ‘thank you’ for borrowing the book.
In the other dimension Corey stood with his back against Jay, both gripping onto their swords, Jim standing on a tree nearby and they were sizing up the three demons through the power shield.
The one guy, who would be described on Earth as Asian, or more like Japanese, seemed to be the leader and he stepped closer to Corey. "Why are you here? We won't let you take more children," he said on a determined tone as his powers started swirling around him and also around the long-haired guy, the two reacting to each other's energies.
Just think the words, Jim sent to Corey through their bond, meaning that he was ready to attack if the strangers tried anything. Well, those swirling powers weren’t that good of a sign and it made the three stranded demons tense up some more.
“What kind of kids are you talking about?” That was Jay, who kept his eyes on the bald guy with the high cheekbones and a piercing look. Was it possible that… “We’re no damn ghouls like those lurking around,” he added then went silent again, the itching in his side getting stronger, but he couldn’t scratch himself since he needed both his hands for his swords.
"We got teleported here. With a trap. We are kidnapped kids too. But we can defend ourselves if needed. Where are we? What do you want from us?" Corey said, his beast features still out while he was watching the demon leader before him. The guy’s reddish power seemed similar to his and he automatically glimpsed up at Jim.
"Corey, come here," the guy said pulling back his power and stepping back, the long-haired guy going to his side.
Jim met his mate’s eyes for a split second then – like the others – frowned hearing Corey’s name from the other guy’s mouth. How did he know…? But when the buff long-haired guy went there, all became clear: he was called Corey too. He kept his hazel eyes on those two, fingers itching on his weapons and the need to jump down and stand on his mate’s side grew stronger too while the two strangers leaned closer to each other for a mostly silent conversation.
The small red beast was watching that other Corey closely with a frown. What the fuck? Also as they stood close to each other, the two strangers’ energy reacted to each other's more and "Corey's" yellow one mixed with the leader guy's reddish, making it a slowly swirling fire-like haze.
"My mate here says you’re telling the truth. We don't mean harm. We are protecting this place. We felt your intrusion and came to check it out," the leader said pulling his power fully back, his mate did the same and the third guy walked up to them.
"My name is Matt. My mate is Corey and our guardian Paolo. And this is the Jukai," Matt waved his hand to the scenery, even adding a little smile.
Now that it looked the strangers weren't going to attack, Jim relaxed a bit too and sheathed the throwing star but kept his knife in his left hand just in case. Then jumping down from the tree he straightened up next to his mate and looked the others in the eye. Like before with the other mated pair, his and Corey's powers reacted the same way, creating the usual lilac haze around them. The only difference was that they couldn't fully pull it back because of this dimension's effect on them.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Jim. This is my mate Corey and our guardian, Jay. Jay, you can put your swords away," he told the other man, who using the permission did so and absently scratched his side nearly right away. "Believe me, we didn't want to end up here. Some witches' spell transported us here from Earth... another dimension," the tall demon explained, putting away his own knife too. Corey's barrier was still feeding on their combined powers to protect them in case of an attack. "We just want to find our way back home. We don't mean no harm either. You mentioned children being taken from here... You mean to Earth?" Jim frowned then followed Paolo's look which was glued to the scratching demon.
"What's up with him?" the bald and short demon asked with a light frown, looking a bit suspicious, like a good guardian.
"He has an itching tattoo," the beast Corey put his swords away too looking back at Jay as well with a 'come on man!!! Stop it!' look. "We all are kidnapped kids too, as I said. We keep trying to save such kids from slave markets."
"I see," Matt said looking at his clan mates. "Demons from Earth keep coming here to take small children away. I think from the way they keep coming and going there must be a way you could go back. Corey too, right? You're a shaman too. I saw some of your kind before."
"Sorry. Can't help it," Jay mumbled under his nose and dropped his eyes from their Corey's look.
The long-haired Corey looked at Jay clearly lost in his thoughts for a moment. "Maybe we should take a look at that tattoo?" he suggested, glimpsing at his mate, clearly communicating with him through their bond.
Jim didn't like the fact that they didn't know what they were talking about, but at least he knew how that went with mates. But what caught Jim's attention were two things. First that there was a way to travel between the dimensions. That was good news for them, because it meant they could go home once they figured out the “how”. Maybe these demons could help them. The second, was it possible that there were more of Corey's kind here? He asked the second question through their bond too, not wanting to reveal just yet that his mate was the only one of his kind that they knew of.
The small beast nodded to Jim's thoughts in his head. "So maybe some of the salvaged kids were taken from here. Maybe we can offer help in that in return of you helping us to get back..?" he suggested, trying also to save time for Jay who felt a bit intimidated by the sudden interest towards his body art.
"Maybe we can, yes," Matt answered, his dark eyes also glued to the young guardian standing between the mates. "I also see that none of you can control your powers. That weakness is the strongest clue that someone is from Earth."
The beast couldn't help but pull up his upper lip a bit from the term "weakness", though he knew that the others were right. That place held more magic and that equaled stronger demons with stronger skills. Earth and its creatures have been too much mixed and weak for centuries. "Then we have a deal?" he asked, looking over to the three demons.
"Yes, we can give you shelter and directions. If he shows us his tattoo," Matt nodded towards Jay who glimpsed at the mates.
"Okay. Jay, strip. But we want to hear why it is so important."
With that and a giving in sigh Jay popped the buttons on his pants, pulled his tee over his head then pushed the pants down with his boxers, showing off the line art tattoo covering his side from his middle till almost down to his left knee. Jim and Corey stepped back with a frown seeing that the eastern demon motive of a horse and crow spirits were slightly moving. Like vibrating the lines on Jay's skin, making it look like it was coming alive.
The Jukai demons let out a collective humming at the sight and Matt buttoned down his shirt and pants too without a word. After he stripped he turned. Matt's back, including his arms and butt and upper thighs were richly decorated with the vibrating vivid scene of a god playing drums to call the dragons.