The air felt heavy around them. Michael didn’t dare to even breathe as he watched Alex. The pressure was gentle and he only wished the bandage wasn’t there so he could feel how soft Alex’s mouth was on his skin. His heart pounded with Alex’s. He wanted to step closer. Shift his hand just slightly to hold his face.
Alex’s eyes fluttered open at he glanced up through his eyelashes. There might as well have been a fire ignited under his skin. The light outside vanished and the lamp that splashed a warm yellow over everything reflected in Alex’s eyes, making the brown look almost golden.
“Alex…” Michael breathed out.
He pulled his lips away from his hand. Instead holding it to his chest, never breaking eye contact with Michael.
“I’m sorry,” he said firmly.
“For the burn. For every injury you’ll have to suffer through.” Michael opened his mouth to stop him. Hadn’t he told him enough times that it wasn’t his fault? “I’m sorry for not being able to protect you from my father all those years ago.”
Michael looked down at the bones that hadn’t mended correctly. A sharp pain shot through his hand as he remembered the incident. Alex gripped his hand tighter, making Michael meet his eyes again.
Pain slowly took over his features, and then a firm defiance as he stepped closer to Michael. Close enough that he could feel his breath on his face.
“It will never happen again. I swear.”
He could hear the double meaning in his voice. He wasn’t just talking about the incident in the shed back in high school. He knew the story of Samuel and Thomas just like he did. And if his father was the reincarnation…
Michael’s fingers twisted into Alex’s shirt and the pain from the burn was hardly noticeable. He pushed him until his back was against the door, resting their foreheads together. Alex’s breath danced over his lips. His heart beat in time with his own.
Michael slipped his leg between Alex’s. Alex ran his hands up his arms to cup his neck. His fingers played with the short curls at the back. Desire swirled around them as Alex’s eyes fluttered shut. Their lips only brushed together when images flashed through Michael’s mind.
Thomas replaced Alex in front of him in quick flashes. Lights seemed to flicker as he shifted between the vision and reality. Except in reality, he didn’t kiss Alex. Samuel leaned forward and kissed Thomas but Michael stayed planted to his spot.
Alex sucked in a breath and Michael immediately stepped away from him. He wiped the heal of his hand over his eye, convinced that maybe he was the only one seeing things. But no. Alex’s eyes were wide as his one hand still hovered in the air, reaching for Michael.
“I guess that’s a yes on whether we’ll have more visions.” Alex’s hand fell back to his side and he looked away from Michael.
“I’m… I think I’m gunna go to bed,” he mumbled out. He moved past Michael, not even letting his hand brush against his. Michael glanced at the clock even though he didn’t need the confirmation that Alex was lying.
“So early?” he asked, not turning to face him.
“What do you want from me?”
Everything. I want all of you.
But of course he couldn’t say that. He let his emotions run wild instead of talking. His desire and loneliness leaking into the air. He only hoped Alex was willing to reach back. Alex was the only person he had that understood what he was going through. If he refused to get close with him… they might as well just give up now.
“Come to bed with me.” Michael spun toward him, eyes wide. Alex stood, half facing him, hand gripping his shirt over the mark. “You don’t need to sleep on the couch. Besides, maybe the next vision we share can be in the form of a dream and not something that injures you.”
He wanted to laugh. He thought about insisting that the couch was fine but instead his feet followed Alex into the master bedroom. He looked around at the neatly made bed. It looked big enough for both of them to lay in, but that was assuming neither of them moved.
And that Michael would be able to control himself.
“I’m going to shower first,” Alex said quietly. He moved to the bathroom and pulled the sliding door closed.
Michael sat on the bed and inhaled. The smell of Alex had settled into this room and it was wrapping around him like the most comforting blanket. He let himself fall back onto the bed. His eyes were quickly becoming heavy and the sound of the shower running was a welcome distraction.
Or at least it was until memories of Alex creeped into his head. His hair wet and dripping. Water tracing the soft lines of his muscles as it ran down his body. Michael groaned and shot up from the bed. He would go crazy if he stayed here with Alex.
He made for the bedroom door to take his place on the couch but a loud thud coming from the bathroom stopped him in his tracks. Every thought left his head as he leapt for the handle and yanked the door open. Steam hit him first, making sweat bead on the back of his neck.
He scanned the small space and found Alex on the floor of the shower, holding a hand to his head. His face was more annoyed than in pain but then again, the pain was blooming on the back of Michael’s head instead.
“Are you alright?” he rushed out, yanking the glass door open and kneeling next to him. Alex looked to the side and Michael followed his eyes. The chair he used seemed to have folded in on itself.
“Yea. My fault, I didn’t lock the legs in place.” They were both quiet for a moment before Alex curled into himself. “Um… Michael? Do you mind… helping me out?” He could see the blush forming on his face even though he refused to look him in the eye.
“Of course. Do you want to get off the floor first or set up your chair?” He watched as Alex’s fingers gripped his arms.
“Chair first. Can’t exactly get up until I have somewhere to sit.” Michael searched his emotions. His words were clipped and he just pulled his knees tighter against his chest.
He was embarrassed. But Michael didn’t need the bond to tell him that. He might have been angry but it didn’t feel like it was directed at him.
Michael stood and turned the water off, even though he was already thoroughly soaked. He reached over Alex, picking up the black plastic and metal folding seat. He checked the leg of the seat and pushed it open. He jiggled it to make sure it was secure and it almost immediately collapsed again.
“I think it might be broken. I can take a look at it tomorrow, see if there’s anything I can do,” Michael said, setting it against the wall. Alex sighed heavily. Michael crouched down again.
“How’s your head?” he asked. Michael blinked and then snickered. Alex shot a glare at him.
“I’m fine Captain. It wasn’t anything serious.” Alex watched him for a moment before averting his eyes again. Michael looked over him and it finally clicked in his mind that Alex was naked. He cleared his throat and felt the heat on his own face. “Do you want help finishing or…?”
He didn’t realize how it sounded until the words had left his mouth. He silently cursed himself but tried to not acknowledge it. If Alex noticed he didn’t say anything either. But his emotions shifted from embarrassment to something darker.
“No. I uh… I can get up on my own.” Michael hesitated. He understood why Alex might want to do things on his own, especially this. But he didn’t need him falling again. “Seriously Michael. I’m fine.”
“I’ll install some handles in here. But for today, please let me at least help you stand.” Michael’s heart raced. Alex’s heart raced.
“Fine.” Michael nodded and took a breath. He rested his hands on Alex’s arms, ignoring how soft his skin was or how firm the muscles actually were. He helped Alex adjust so he was facing the door then offered his hand.
Alex took it and held on like his life depended on it. Michael slipped his arm under Alex’s shoulder and wrapped around his back. He felt his hand grab at his soaked t-shirt and dig into his skin. Michael lifted him slowly until he was balancing on his one leg.
He pulled Alex over the small step, ignoring the way he leaned against him with the full length of his body. Michael tried to let Alex guide as much as possible but it was difficult when he was practically carrying all his weight.
“Just let me brace against the counter. Then I’ll be fine.” Michael nodded and helped him. Alex grabbed the towel that was sitting there and as soon as Michael released him, he was wrapping it around his waist.
“Come on Alex… It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” he tried teasing. It became obvious pretty quickly that this wasn’t the right approach.
“That’s not the point,” Alex snapped. Michael looked away and nodded. He shouldn’t crowd him.
“Sorry. I’ll get out of your way. Let me know if you need anything.” Michael said as he turned to leave. He only made it halfway to the bedroom door before he heard Alex sigh.
“Wait,” he called, sounding defeated. Michael turned back around and leaned against the door frame of the still steaming bathroom. He watched Alex’s emotions play out on his face as he felt them in his own heart.
Embarrassment, mostly. But gratitude, hopefulness, and desire twisted between them too. Alex nibbled on his lip, resting his hip against the counter as one of his hands gripped the towel around his waist.
“I just… hate being needy. I don’t want to make things difficult for you.” Michael wanted to reach out and touch him. Pull him into a hug if nothing else.
“You don’t make things difficult for me. I’ll happily help you whenever you need it.”
“I know you say that but—” Michael closed the distance between them, taking Alex’s face in his hands, forcing him to meet his eyes.
“And I mean it. You are not a burden. You are my whole life, Alex.”
Alex seemed frozen in front of him. The only thing that moved was his eyes as they scanned his face. Michael ran his thumbs over his cheekbones gently. Echoes of the past danced in the back of his mind.
Alex looked younger. His eyes wide and uncertain, just like when he almost kissed him in the shed. The feeling of knowing there’s something there yet being too nervous to act on it. The only way they could know for sure is if they took a leap of faith that the other person was feeling it too.
So Michael leaned in again brushing his lips over Alex’s gently in a quiet request for permission. His breath tickled his face as he searched his eyes for anything he might not have been saying. Desire built in the few centimeters between their lips. Electricity seemed to dance under his fingertips. Their noses bumped together as the steam from the shower made their skin sticky.
Michael moved his hand to the back of Alex’s head, grabbing a handful of his damp hair. Their lips brushed together again and Alex’s eyes fluttered shut. He swayed froward against Michael, pressing their chests together for a moment.
“Alex…” he breathed over his mouth.
A thud fell at his feet and the hand that was no longer holding the towel was resting on the waistband of his jeans and fiddled with the button. Michael let out a small whimper. It was too much. He didn’t trust himself to not go all the way with Alex. The man in front of him brushed their lips together again as the hand on his jeans shifted to touch him through the fabric. Michael’s mouth fell open in a silent moan.
“Kiss me, Michael,” Alex whispered.
He wanted to. He was a mess of want and need, need, need. But those few centimeters between them still felt like miles. Alex still had doubts. Michael could feel them between the layers of want.
“I want to. I want you so bad I think I might fall to my knees and beg.” Alex sucked in a breath as his hand finally popped the button and pulled the zipper down. Michael’s hips betrayed him by rocking forward into his touch. “But you’re still uncertain. And I want you to be all in, like I am.” Alex pulled away slightly and shifted, tugging Michael along by the hem of his underwear.
Alex was leaning backwards against the counter now. His eyes never left Michael’s as he hopped up to sit on the marble, legs spread wide. Michael did his best to not look down but he wanted to see all of him. All of what Alex was offering.
He was hard and a bead of precum sat at the tip. Michael couldn’t help the way he licked his lips as his eyes devoured every inch of him. Alex’s hand tugged him closer and slipped into the fabric of his underwear. His hot skin brushing over his own erection had his eyes practically rolling back in his head.
“Fine. Don’t kiss me. But I’ll be damned if I don’t get us both off,” Alex panted. So he pulled Michael as close as possible, spreading his legs wide. He grabbed the hem of Michael’s wet shirt and pushed it up. Almost instinctively, Michael finished removing it and tossed it to the floor. Alex wrapped a hand around his own cock along with Michael’s and he stroked them both at the same pace.
Michael wasn’t about to let him do all the work on his own. He wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him to the edge of the counter. He grabbed Alex’s wrist and stopped his movement, pushing his hand away and replacing it with his own. Alex gasped and his hips jerked up.
Michael grinned at him as he tried to suppress his own moans. With his free hand he pushed his jeans and underwear down so Alex would have easier access. Then Alex was grabbing a fistful of his hair and pulling their foreheads together. They panted the same air, lips touching every so often.
Michael cursed when he heard Alex whimper and moan. His own hips thrusted into Alex’s hand. His mouth watered and he wanted more than anything to run his tongue down Alex’s neck just to feel the vibrations from his moans.
He felt the way Alex gripped him, trying to keep his strokes steady. Michael grinned and released him, much to Alex’s annoyance.
“Michael please, don’t stop,” he begged. He brushed their lips together again before bringing two fingers to his mouth, sucking them and letting his spit collect. Alex panted, hips jerking up into nothing. Michael released his fingers with a wet sound before running the tips over Alex’s shaft. He groaned and tried to kiss Michael again. He pulled away just enough to keep the distance.
Michael traced the line down to his ass, letting his wet fingers leave a trail. He teased the rim of his hole and Alex shuddered, thrusting his hips forward. Alex’s pace faltered on his cock, too distracted by Michael’s teasing. So Michael moved his hips on his own.
He wanted to be inside him. Feel him shudder and clench around him. Begging for Michael to cum too.
But instead he pushed his fingers into his ass. A drawn out moan fell from Alex’s lips as his hips rolled to take them deeper. His fingers tightened in his hair. Michael could feel the way he was shaking and knew how close he must be. The thought of making Alex cum again… his own hips jerked into Alex’s fist faster.
He worked him fast, twisting and spreading his fingers. He pressed against his walls except for the one place he knew he needed it. They pant in synch with each other, Michael’s legs already starting to feel wobbly.
“Fuck, I’m so close,” Michael mumbled out, curving his fingers again.
“Me too. Please don’t stop,” he panted back. Michael bit his lip to quiet his groans. He shifted the angle of his fingers, curving them up to massage Alex’s prostate. Alex’s head fell backwards, forcing him to release Michael’s hair and brace himself on the counter.
Michael watched him with half lidded eyes. Tracing down the sharp angles of his jaw, to the way his neck moved when he swallowed, and down his chest to the muscles underneath, stopping on the glowing mark over his heart. The light radiated outward, making Alex’s skin glow from more than just sweat. Alex was stunning. Always had been. Power and softness all wrapped up in one package. And he let Michael touch him like this. To see him vulnerable and begging.
Alex wanted so much more than Michael was giving him. He could feel it in the echo’s from the mark.
“Gunna… cum…” Alex gasped out.
Michael moved his hips faster to match pace with his fingers, his own orgasm threatening to overtake him. Alex’s gasps and moans just got louder as he pressed against his sweet spot repeatedly.
“Go on… I’ll be right behind you,” Michael encouraged hotly as he leaned forward, breathing heavily over Alex’s skin and pressing his mouth to his mark.
As though he was waiting for permission, Alex spasmed and moaned out Michael’s name. His cock jerked as cum spilled onto his stomach. His emotions ran wild as they seemed to hit Michael square in the chest. Michael’s own orgasm washed over him, sending him into a fit of gasps and moans to match Alex’s. He spilled over Alex’s skin, white running down between his thighs and over his ass.
The mark on Alex’s chest glowed and pulsed seemingly in time with every new wave of his orgasm. Michael felt the way his heart pounded. So filled with joy and contentment. It could have beat right out of his chest.
Alex released him slowly, Michael sat up to watch his face. His cheeks were red and the rise and fall of his chest was evening out. Alex traced his hand over Michael’s hip and abs, until he reached the mark on his chest. He pressed his hand over it gently as his fingers still trembled.
Michael pulled his fingers out slowly, wanting to grin at the small whimper Alex made from the movement. Neither of them said anything for a while, just watched each other, trying to pick through all the feelings that swirled between them.
Michael still wanted to kiss him. More than anything. But they needed to talk first because he wasn’t sure he could go back to pretending to not be affected by his presence after this. He reached up to cover Alex’s hand with his own, holding it gently.
“I didn’t exactly plan on taking a second shower this evening,” Alex joked.
And Michael couldn’t help himself. He snorted out a laugh and stepped back from him, hoping his face didn’t show how badly he wanted Alex’s hand back on his skin. He reached down and pulled his underwear and jeans back up, though he didn’t bother closing the button.
“I recommend taking a bath instead. At least until I can fix your seat for you.” Alex chuckled in return. Before Michael made it too far, Alex grabbed his wrist. He looked back at him and raised an eyebrow.
“Can you… help me?”
Michael’s eyes ran over him. The blush on his face had returned. He nodded slowly and took Alex’s hand. He wrapped an arm around his shoulders and helped him slide off the counter, trying to ignore the mess they had made.
He moved him to the jacuzzi tub that was easily big enough for two people. He set Alex down on the edge, assuming that he just needed help moving. But when he tried to leave again, a sharp disappointment settled in his chest.
“You can stay and.. wash up too…” Alex mumbled almost incoherently. Michael tried to temper the way his heart soared at the suggestion. He figured he was unsuccessful from the small gasp Alex let out.
“I think that’s a bad idea,” he said without turning around.
“Because we don’t know what this is Alex. And as bad as I want you, we need to talk this out.” Alex didn’t respond after that. The squeak of the faucet spitting out water was Michael’s cue to leave. “Call me if you need help,” he said.
He stepped out of the bathroom and closed the door but left a small crack in case Alex called for him. He looked down at himself then ran a hand through his hair. He had a moment of weakness. Alex needed to come to him first.
Alex sat almost completely submerged in the water. The jets massaged his leg and he adjusted so one was aimed at his upper back. A moment of weakness is what it was. He knew that he was being influenced by the spirit of Thomas but he rolled with it anyway.
Michael had looked right at him and basically confessed. Again. He kept saying things as though this was the only option.
He sunk deeper into the water, blowing bubbles out of his nose.
When Michael pressed a kiss to his mark, it felt like the beginning. Of what he wasn’t sure. But now his body demanded it happen again.
Hey Thomas, mind stopping with your quest to reunite with your lover? He thought at himself, chuckling.
“Our souls are made to be together.”
Alex sucked in a breath and shot upright. He coughed as water ran up his nose. His head spun as he looked around the bathroom for the voice that sounded eerily close to his. Thomas?
Yea, maybe. But what if Michael and I aren’t? He felt stupid. This voice in his head could have been his own. His brain attempting to rationalize everything he had experienced in the last month. But the voice was different. Softer.
“History is destined to repeat itself.”
How are you talking to me?
“I am a part of you now. Just like Samuel is a part of Michael. We have had to live through every reincarnation and now we are closer than ever.”
So it is your feelings influencing me?
“You fell for Michael long before I was here.” He gripped the side of the tub
Why do you keep giving us visions then, if not to push us together?
Silence returned to his mind. At least, there was no more voice. Had he hallucinated the whole thing? Convinced himself that he was talking to Thomas rather than himself? Maybe he was just giving himself the answers he wanted to hear.
He groaned and leaned back against the tub again. He traced the lines of the wood ceiling with his eyes and followed over to where the shower sat. He flushed at the thought of Michael’s arm wrapping around him to help him stand. He shook his head and glanced to the door.
The small crack that Michael had left showed part of the bed. Michael sat on it, arms on his legs, staring at a spot on the floor with a frown on his face. He was still shirtless and his jeans still unbuttoned. The light caught a part of the mark on his chest and it glowed.
The beating of his own heart seemed to stutter to match Michael’s. He reached up and touched the mark on his chest. Alex had loved him a long time ago when they were teenagers. Young and stupid. But he would be lying if he said it wasn’t the happiest he had ever been.
He hadn’t known about the curse then. Michael was just a guy angry at the world that took his parents from him and made him grow up too fast. A guy who only showed his soft side to Alex. And he was the kid who had his guitar stolen by the guarded genius. Gave him a place to stay if he needed to get away from it all.
Then Alex had leaned in to kiss him.
He wondered now if the pull he felt back then was the curse. Michael always told him that there was a lot of family history that he couldn’t get away from. But that he felt like he could when he was with Alex. He had known about the curse back then but had gotten close to him anyway. Maybe he just couldn’t help himself.
Alex refocused on what was in front of him and he was met with a heated stare from Michael. Alex blinked and blushed, turning away almost immediately. He felt his gaze burning holes in the back of his head. How long had he just been staring at him, lost in thought?
He pushed himself up slowly to sit on the edge of the tub. He swung his legs to the other side, water pooling on the floor. His mind was racing. Maybe they should be trying to trigger visions. The visions were inconvenient but maybe they held the answers they were looking for.
The opal sat on top of the dresser in the bedroom, taunting him with ideas of consummation and feeling Michael against him again.
“Need anything?” Alex turned toward the door. Michael was leaning against the opposite side, making sure to keep his gaze focused on the wall.
“Can you just grab me a new towel and my crutch.” Michael vanished for a moment but soon he was walking back into the bathroom, every inch of his skin seeming to glow. He handed the towel to Alex, never breaking eye contact as he gave him a small smile. Alex looked away first and wrapped the towel around his waist before taking the crutch. He stood slowly, mindful of the water on the floor. He moved to where his sweats were folded on the counter. He glanced back at Michael who still watched him. “You going to watch me get dressed?”
Michael immediately cleared his throat and looked away, red dusting his face. He mumbled out an apology before exiting the bathroom and sliding the door closed again. Completely this time.
Alex looked at himself in the mirror, eyes landing on the glowing mark. Michael was right. They needed to talk this through.
He sat on the toilet to pull his sweats on, tying a knot just below where his leg ended to keep the extra fabric out of the way. He towel dried his hair before putting on his shirt but some drops still ran down his back.
When he walked into the bedroom, Michael was holding the opal. He turned it over in his hands, eyebrows furrowed like something was just out of his reach but he didn’t know what. He hardly looked up at Alex until he sat down next to him.
“Do you want to try again?” Alex asked. He watched Michael’s fingers tighten around the stone.
“It won’t show us anything new.” That was true. The directions in the book specifically said the ‘path to consummation and nothing more.’ At best they would be thrown into a different sex memory. But Alex wasn’t sure if he could take that.
“Michael…” he started. He fiddled with his hands, twisting his fingers together. “When we were younger… did you know about the curse?” He needed to hear it from his mouth.
“I found out about the curse when you did Alex. When the mark appeared on my chest.”
“That’s not what I mean. You’ve known about the possibility of the curse your whole life. Did you know it would be me when you started talking to me.” Michael was quiet, turning the stone over in his hand a few times.
“I assumed we were safe. The curse usually manifests in the high school years and we were about to graduate. I stole your guitar that day because I wanted to get your attention. You didn’t seem drawn to me and I wondered if that was because you didn’t know about the history. I guess I just wanted to know what it was like to not have to worry about it. But then the strangest thing happened.” He let out a small chuckle before turning to face Alex. “I fell in love with you. I thought we wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I could save you in a normal way. Take you away from your shitty home and never look back.”
So he hadn’t known about the curse. He interacted with him because he wanted to. Wanted to get to know him better.
“You’ve got a detail wrong.” Alex said after a long stretch of silence.
“What do you mean?”
“I was drawn to you. I had been curious about you ever since we were kids. This beautiful boy that always tagged along with Max when he came to see Liz. That was when we were ten. At thirteen I was realizing I was gay and I was horrified that you would never be interested. At fifteen you were already developing a reputation of picking up any girl you want but you never ostracized me. And at seventeen you stole my guitar and didn’t run away when I didn’t correct you about me being gay. And when I tried to kiss you, you backed away and my heart shattered. Then the next day you kissed me. And even through my deployment. You let me come back. Every time. Until that last day when we fought… But I finally realized that none of what I was feeling for you was going to go away. I loved you Michael.”
Alex took a shaky breath and straightened his back. He turned toward Michael, meeting his burning eyes as their hearts beat in time. Hope was rushing to the surface. Michael inched forward, eyes glancing down. Alex rested his hand over Michael’s, threading their fingers together on the bed.
An explosion rocked the cabin. Alex yanked Michael to the floor on reflex, pushing his head down and wrapping his arms around him to hold him to his chest. The cabin was shaking, metal clanking and falling. Debris smacking into the exterior walls.
Images flashed through his head. He tried to chase away the thoughts that they were the bodies of his friends. Their bunker getting stormed in the middle of the night. He was waiting for the inevitable ceiling collapse that was going to kill both of them. Or worse, leave Alex alive and alone. Again.
He squeezed Michael tighter as he felt the tears running down his face. He hardly registered Michael wrapping his arms around his waist, holding him just as tightly. Face buried in his neck, fingers digging into the muscles in his back.
It couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes they were sitting there. Michael was wrapped in his arms and legs, Alex’s fingers gripping the skin of his arms. It took a moment for him to register that Michael was speaking to him in a hushed voice, tracing patterns over his back.
“Shh. It’s ok. You’re ok. No one is going to hurt us. You’re here with me. I’m here… I’m here…”
Alex slowly loosened his grip. As soon as he could move, Michael was pushing himself to his knees. He took Alex’s face in his hands, wiping away the tears. He pulled their faces together, pressing his forehead to Alex.
Alex blinked and tried to breathe normally but every exhale brought another sob. Fire danced behind his eyelids whenever he closed them. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing the visions to go away. Instead he focused on the steady movement of Michael’s thumb over his cheeks. Every few seconds Michael would whisper “I’m here” again.
His body slowly stopped shaking and the tears began to dry. He didn’t know how hard he had been gripping Michael but from the way the joints in his fingers had stiffened, he could guess.
“I have to go check what happened,” Michael said softly. He didn’t want Michael to go. He wanted him to stay and hold him, just for a bit longer. “I’ll be right back, ok?” Alex couldn’t force himself to release him. His fingers shook and seemingly without his consent, tried to pull Michael in again.
“Please,” he begged, not quite sure what he was trying to ask for.
“Oh baby, where are you right now?” Michael mumbled, clearly not intended for him to hear. He moved a hand from his face, gently taking his wrist and pulling his fingers from their death grip on his waist. He brought his hand up to his chest, placing it over the mark where his heartbeat was. “Just breathe ok? Listen to my heart. Feel it under your hand. You’re safe.”
Alex took another shaky breath. He closed his eyes again and the flames returned. He focused on the thumping under his fingers instead. Steady and strong. He matched his own breathing to the rise and fall of Michael’s chest. He felt his calm through the mark, letting it wash over him as well. He could almost hear his heartbeat, just like Michael had instructed him to do. It was like the mark was synching their bodies. His own heart slowed to match and his fingers on Michael’s waist loosened and dropped to his side. The smell of rain took hold in his mind, dampening and extinguishing the raging flames.
“Michael,” he gasped out. He breathed a sigh of relief and pulled him into a one armed hug, still gripping his hand tightly against his chest. “I’m…”
“Shh. I’ve got you.” Alex nodded against him, his shoulders sagging. When Michael pulled away again Alex was able to let him go. Though he still didn’t want to. “I’m going to see what the explosion was. I will be right back. Promise.”
“Take me with you,” Alex insisted, voice cracking. Michael seemed to hesitate but eventually nodded and pulled Alex up, holding him steady while he grabbed his crutch.
They walked slowly to the front door, bright orange illuminated the front room from the windows. Alex insisted he could walk on his own but Michael held his hand the whole way, never moving too fast. Michael pulled the door open, and the heat from the fire was like walking into a wall.
Flames consumed Alex’s car. Or what was left of it at least. Various scraps of metal were strewn about and some smoldering pieces were too close to the wood of the cabin for comfort. Alex looked at Michael and his face was scrunched into a scowl.
“We can’t do anything except wait for it to go out,” he said stiffly. Alex squeezed his hand in response.
“Do you think it was targeted?”
“It’d be a hell of a coincidence if it wasn’t. But that would also mean we’re not safe here.” Alex shuddered and looked back at his burning car.
“Are you saying we have to run again?” Michael turned to face him, the light reflecting in his eyes.
“The curse will follow wherever we go. But I will take you as far away as you want if it’ll make you feel safe.” Alex swallowed and shook his head. He knew they couldn’t run.
“You make me feel safe.”
A small smile made it’s way onto Michael’s face and the heat of the fire was nothing compared to the growing smolder in his gaze.
But in reality, the fire actually was growing smaller. The heat diminished and the flames stopped spitting sparks. Alex turned toward the burnt husk of the car. He watched the last of the flames die and a silhouette emerging from behind. Michael instantly stepped in front of him, fists clenched and ready for a fight.
“Calm down cowboy. Seriously, I was only gone for a few hundred years and I come back to this disaster?”
She stepped into the light, ripped jeans and crop tank looking perfect as she shifted her cowboy hat further back on her head, dark hair in a messy side braid. Tessa was back.