The day the boat drifted away into the Mist, Peter remembered feeling the loss of everything he'd ever known and held dear. Nick's words had resounded in Peter's head and he was determined to do everything he'd promised for the boy. And more.
He remembered the spark of hope when a moan caught his ear, and before he'd even registered that it was Nick, he was at the boy's side. He was still alive! The magic apple he'd so recklessly chomped into was the key factor to the boy's survival; Avallach's magic was still enough. From that moment he'd sworn he'd never lose him again—not any child. But especially not him.
After a couple months of superb treatment in a New York hospital (thanks to the threats of a golden eyed boy with flashing knives who convinced the staff that payment wasn't going to be an issue) and a steady diet of smuggled Avalon foods (Peter couldn't stop talking of how the new land was flourishing faster than anyone had ever expected!), and Nick was on the mend and back living with his mom.
Peter had made good on his promise, and soon after Nick was stable in the hospital, the dangerous faerie boy had made a visit to Marko's. What Nick didn't know what that Peter had left with more than bloody knives that day: he'd taken every penny that the drug dealers had stashed, and after a few months of doing the same thing to over forty percent of New York's other thugs, he'd saved up enough to buy Nick and his mom and grandmother a small house in the country.
Suffice it to say that Nick no longer had a reason to hate his guts.
Although it had taken some convincing on Peter's part. He swore to Nick that he wasn't kidnapping any more children for the purpose of creating an army of blindly devoted soldiers. Now he was only taking in lost children that really needed a better lot in life.
Nick's new house was surrounded by many acres of woods—of which he had no fear at all, and, when he was well enough, would wander through whenever he could. The call of these wild places still appealed to him, still sent the blood sizzling through his veins in a way he didn't want to admit. He still had no idea how long he'd really spent in Avalon, but even a few months there will change a person. The trees in his wood seemed dull and quiet, the animals brainless and methodical. Once he even found himself longing for the pesky pixies that hadn't bothered him while eating for months now. When he wandered through the forest, he turned every corner in the hopes of catching the flicker of a fairy light or the thud of troll hooves.
At least, that's what a certain, small, deep-down-inside-of-him part wanted. What he wanted, of course, was a normal teenage life with his mom and friends. He had friends; he was happy with them too. But when he was alone with his thoughts in the woods, that deep down part of him would remind him that none of those friends had as contagious a smile as he did.
Most of all, the woods were where he was often visited by a certain golden-eyed boy that had been such a huge part of him back then.
To his chagrin, these visits were the highlight of his days. And it wasn't so much the visits that annoyed him, but that they reminded him that the normal life he'd fought so hard to get back just wasn't cutting it for him anymore. There was none of the excitement of the wilderness, the colors of a million plants and creatures he'd never heard of, the magic of Peter's world, the Peter of Peter's world.
As the weeks passed Peter spent less time searching for children at night and more stalking around Nick's property. He eventually became too impatient waiting for Nick in the trees, and would appear on his window ledge and grin as the boy jumped in surprise.
"You're loosing your edge there Nicky-boy," Peter snickered, and his eyes flashed as he looked at him. "You know what will fix that. Gotta get a little more magic in your system."
Nick sighed, "I'm not going back, Peter, not now anyway. I've finally gotten my life back. We've talked about this."
Peter frowned and slid up next to him. "Aw c'mon man. Deviltree's not the same without you," he looked down. "Without any of the Devils…. I can't raise and train all the new bloods by myself." He didn't think Nick was the best person to bemoan the loss of his oldest Devils to, so he stopped while he was ahead.
Peter pressed up behind Nick, and he shuddered when Peter's breath ghosted across his neck. It reminded him of the Mist; just as then, his fear was overshadowed by this boy commanding his trust. He found himself leaning back into Peter, and forgetting what they were talking about.
Peter spun him around and looked at him from arm's length. "Actually, Nick, I'm serious. You should have more magic in you. If you have enough you'll be able to come to Avalon and back whenever you want." He wrapped his arms around Nick's shoulders and leaned into his neck to whisper, "And I'd really, really like that.
"So will you? For me?"
Nick blinked. "Will I what, Peter? Are you gonna bring me a ton more faerie food, or what?"
Peter grinned impishly. God that boy could go from pant-meltingly sexy to 5-year-old in no time flat! Nick thought."No, no, listen. I'm the son of the Horned One, the king of Avalon now!" Nick wasn't sure if he was just bragging now or what. He gave him an unimpressed look, but Peter didn't seem to notice, he was so caught up in his new scheme.
"Nick, do a blood brother bond with me!" He proceeded to grab one of his knives and slice a red line across his palm so fast that the movement was a blur to Nick. He made to protest as Peter grabbed for his hand, but he realized, Peter was right: he wasn't as fast as he used to be when he had been a Devil. He hissed as his blood welled up out of the wound.
Peter grabbed his hand with his own cut one and pressed them together, hard. Nick tried not to wince as the faerie boy held their hands together for what seemed like ten whole minutes. Peter's eyes were closed and his face was a mask of concentration, and after awhile Nick found himself just studying the boy in front of him.
Then Peter slowly opened his eyes and placed a gentile kiss on the back of Nick's hand. It was then that Nick felt the boy's faerie blood surging in his veins—at least, he thought that was the cause of the sudden "blood-surging", but it could just as likely have been the intensity of Peter's eyes on his own and the body heat that filled the rapidly shrinking space between them.
Neither of the boys had to be "adults" to understand what would happen next; what happened next for weeks after that. Peter mentioned once, during one of their almost nightly rendezvous, that he needed this outlet with Nick so he could be a true "child" back at Deviltree; so he could leave this aspect of his adolescent limbo in the human world.
Nick would just roll his eyes and allow Peter to keep pretending that sexuality wasn't the only thing that separated he and his Devils from adults. He'd never met adults so judging and vengeful and violent and irresponsible as the kids of Devilwood—and he'd lived in New York!
Nick did eventually have enough magic back in him that the call of the wilderness became too loud, and the desire to be something greater than a mundane adult got the best of him.
Also, as he'd begun to realize, he had subtly stopped aging; at least, he couldn't see any changes since that first day Peter had shared his blood. He guessed it must be stronger than just eating magical food, especially since they'd only done the blood exchange a few more times after that. (Peter had often joked, late at night when they were happily tangled together, that blood wasn't the only bodily fluid he could ingest for magical sustenance. Nick had smacked him, but damn Peter had been right again. It did work the same as blood. He got the same buzzing high after as he always did.)
Having to explain leaving and never returning to his mom was a little tricky, and sad, and he was so tired of lying to her, that he decided to go with a sort of variation of the truth. The story ended up being that he had found a boyfriend when he'd "run away" who lived far away in the jungles (of Brazil), and he was going to transfer to a school (of very unique skills) there to stay with him. He'd told her there was no phone service or major airports, but that he would write whenever he could.
This went over like a lead balloon and he just barely got a promise out of her that she wouldn't worry too much about him.
That night he packed what he'd need (mostly just months worth of Snickers and Hershey bars) and waited expectantly by the oldest oak on his property. Soon enough, he caught the flash of gold eyes just as a lithe figure dropped from the branches and into his arms.
Peter clutched him tightly. "So you're finally coming? Coming home?"
Nick nodded, his face pressed against the crook of Peter's tattered red army jacket, just as unwilling to let go. Impossibly, the strong arms around him grasped even tighter. "I'm so happy. For the first time in forever, Nick, I'm really happy."