Josh was dying.
He gasped desperately for breath, attempting to fill his lungs with the oxygen they so craved. But as he lay there, sandwiched tightly between the seat and the steering wheel, he found himself quite unable to force his chest to expand any far enough for him to suck in even half of the amount of air that his brain required. Time seemed to slow down into minutes, minutes turning into hours as he lay broken and crumpled as a rag doll over the steering wheel. His head was turned toward the shattered driver’s side window, his eyes open and unblinking, pupils still.
He could feel his own pulse slowing as blood continued to drip from the gash in his side, having been impaled by the sword he had kept so possessively (in hindsight, so foolishly) across his own lap while operating the large SUV. Josh could not even find it within himself to summon enough strength to cry out. Stupid, stupid, stupid…
In a panic, his aura flared in great waves around his body. The scent of citrus was so strong in the air that it made his own eyes water, as if he had crushed one of the fruits and let its juices spill directly into his eyes. Magic could do nothing to help him here. Not when his mind was so scattered and his own experience being so lacking. The most he could do here was… Was…
From behind him, the boy heard one of the doors from the back opening. It was surprising, no doubt, but not entirely unexpected. After all, the crash had been a head on collision with a cement divider. So while Josh was in the front seat and forced to bear witness to his own life slowly trickling away, the others were little more than bruised.
“What are you doing?” He heard a muffled female voice ask. The name “Virginia” swirled around in the back of his rapidly degrading mind.
“I won’t just let him die here,” said another voice. “Doctor John Dee, remember?”
The female voice laughed. It sounded mocking.
“Are you insinuating that it’s your duty to stick to an oath you never took?”
“You saw me take that oath.”
“I saw you cross your fingers, too.”
“Are you going to sit there and argue this with me, or are you going to help?”
“Help? Why? We’re done here. We don’t need him anymore. If anything, this will cripple the girl if we leave his body here to the wreckage.”
“We’re not leaving him,” Doctor John Dee growled out. Josh could practically hear the other woman rolling her eyes.
“Of course… I should have seen it before.”
“Not. Another. Word.”
There was an awful, terrible, deafening screech and suddenly Josh found himself falling forward and into a pair of arms, rather than the cold, blood slick leather of the steering wheel. In the distance, he heard someone shout, as if in intense pain. It took a few minutes for him to register that it had been he himself who had cried out.
No response. Josh felt himself being lowered gently to the asphalt.
The teen stared unblinkingly at the sky, watching as the soft white clouds breezed across the fire colored sky. Sunset. Late sunset, by the looks of it. It would be dark soon. Purple began to creep its way across and bleed into the soft orange edges, slowly but surely claiming the aerial domain as its own. Night was swift approaching.
“John,” said the voice of the woman Virginia. “You can’t save him now, it’s too late. Look at the blade, it’s practically cleaved him in half. It’s impossible. “
“I can save him. You know just how possible it is.”
“…You can’t be serious.”
“I don’t have a sense of humor,” he snapped back. Josh sighed out heavily, his eyelids growing heavy. There was a hand on his forehead, smoothing back his hair and wiping away the droplets of sweat beading on his brow. He felt his head being lifted into someone’s lap. “Hold him still,” Josh heard the doctor say. There was a second set of hands at his hips now, gentler, more feminine. “This is going to hurt a lot,” he said to the teen, who said and did nothing but continue to stare at the sky in awe. He felt the faintest touch of pressure on the blade buried in his body, as if someone had grabbed it’s handle. Josh watched the darkness completely envelop the sky just before he felt the blade being ripped from his body.
The next thing he knew, Josh’s eyes were fluttering open, and he found himself staring up at a ceiling with an ornate chandelier hanging delicately from a chain at its center. He furrowed his brow softly, not quite recognizing where he was. Although these pillows were terribly soft, nearly as plump and comfortable as the mattress he was resting upon. Nearly. The entire ensemble was extremely lavish and altogether made the teen feel as though he were floating on a cloud.
“Oh my God, I’m dead,” Josh whispered softly to himself, eyes wide with the realization. From the side, he heard a burst of laughter, startling him.
“No, you’re not dead. Not now, and more likely than not, you won’t be dead for a very, very long time,” Dee said, smirking at the teen sprawled out on his bed. Josh, who was too confused to even consider being embarrassed, raised an eyebrow at the doctor’s odd words.
“But I remember. I remember dying, I remember laying there on the road, I remember I was dead!” Josh exclaimed. Dee merely looked amused, cocking an eyebrow at the boy.
“Do you now?”
Josh blinked. Actually, now that he thought about it, he didn’t remember actually being dead. Oh, he remembered dying, feeling as though his soul were being ripped from his body as his life essence spilled all across the road, staining the asphalt with blood. He remembered screaming in agony and wishing he were dead. But in reality, he never actually crossed the threshold.
“Magic,” Dee responded nonchalantly. Josh was instantly suspicious.
“What kind of magic?”
“Oh, I believe you know exactly what kind of magic.”
The teen blinked, thinking back to all that the magician had said, specific his remark earlier about not being dead for a long time. A “very, very” long time. Josh swallowed, face paling as the weight of the words sunk in. Dee smirked.
“Typically its custom to thank your master when they’ve done you a service.”
Josh scrambled upright at the sound of that word, wincing with pain and clutching at his stomach as he did so. He looked back up at the doctor, whose eyes were deadly serious.
“…immortal, is the word I believe you’re looking for, yes.”
Josh rose from the bed, careful of his stitched up injury, making sure to move slowly enough so as not to reopen the would but also not being able to remain sitting down after hearing this news.
“I can’t believe this.”
“Well, I do hope you come to terms with it soon,” Dee said, picking up the novel he had been reading from where it was resting on the arm of his chair, flipping back to his most recent page. “Otherwise these next few centuries will be very difficult for us.”
“Us?” Josh asked, stopping in his pacing directly before the doctor.
“Us,” Dee repeated. “After all, you do belong to me now.”
“So,” Josh shoved aside the nerves that fluttered in his stomach as he approached the doctor in his chair. He gently pressed his knee into the cushion on one side of the doctor’s body, then brought his other leg to rest on the other side of Dee’s lap, straddling his waist. “Does that mean I’m yours now?”
The doctor hummed, setting his book aside once more. He brought two fingers to rest beneath the blonde’s chin, tipping it upward so that he could look into his crystal blue eyes. Oh, this would do very nicely. Dee closed the space between them, guiding Josh’s lips to his so that he could claim the boy, the contact between them quite literally causing sparks of lust to fly. The doctor grinned as he pulled away from the deceptively soft kiss, the first they’d ever shared.