CHAPTER FOUR - THE NEW RULING CLASS
Two weeks later ...
"You're not paying attention. Your mind is somewhere else." Jamie's mouth was threatening to turn into a pout, which meant that Damien would be scrambling to make whatever it was up to him.
Who am I kidding? I'm scrambling now and he hasn't even begun to pout!
In just two weeks, Damien was not only used to having Jamie as a near constant companion, except when sleeping, which they did alone much to Damien's dismay, but he couldn't remember ever wanting it to be different. Today, for example, they were outside in the farthest back garden.
Jamie was tossing a football up into the air and catching it as they discussed Catcher in the Rye for their tutoring session the next day. Damien was sprawled on the ground with his sunglasses on. The sunglasses allowed him to admire his best friend's body without complete obviousness and protected his eyes from the too bright sun. It was fall, but the day was almost summer warm. A trickle of sweat trailed between his shoulder blades. He thrust the sleeves of his long-sleeved black Henley up to his elbows.
He thought he had been making a good point about how Holden Caulfield related "phoniness" to people who were too conventional. But something about his behavior had caught Jamie's eye. Perhaps it was the fact that his attention had almost solely drifted towards the slice of tanned skin that appeared each time Jamie held up his arms.
"I'm paying attention," Damien retorted with a frown.
"You are now. But you weren't," Jamie said, pointing the football towards him.
How could I give a rat's ass about Catcher in the Rye when I have my Adonis to admire?
Jamie didn't seem to understand that Damien found him beautiful. The words that easily came out of his mouth with others, people he cared less about but wanted to bed, froze on his tongue with Jamie.
"What gave it away?" Damien asked. He leaned back on his elbows, stretching his legs out in front of him.
"That you weren't paying attention? You get this sort of glazed look. So when I started saying: Damien and Stephan sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, and you didn't react, I sort of knew."
Damien made a gagging noise at the description of him and Stephan doing anything, let alone kissing. Jamie laughed and settled on the grass beside him. Damien's gaze went straight to his lips. They were full, sculpted and a particular shade of pinkish-brown that was mesmerizing. Kissing Jamie would be quite welcome.
But despite the Peach Incident, he hasn't made a move or said a word about being more than "brothers."
Watching Jamie eat fruit after that first day had been a living torture. Damien had banned the chef from having any peaches brought into the house. Then Jamie had started on apples. Damien had been tempted to restrict fruit altogether, but that wasn't an option. So he manfully left the room when Jamie had a craving for apples, oranges and, god forbid, bananas.
I'd cream my jeans if I saw him eating a banana. I have it bad.
Whether Jamie was open or not to something happening to them was vague. And though he didn't want to admit it, Damien didn't want his one companion to suddenly avoid him due to complications.
I can fuck anyone else. But I can't talk to them. Jamie's the only one I want to do that with.
"I can't believe you sang that song about me and Stephan. Are you like two-years-old?" Damien groused.
"Maybe." Jamie grinned at him, but that grin quickly faded and the boy stared down at his hands. He was twisting strands of grass between his fingers.
"What is it? You're getting all ... quiet," Damien said. He didn't add: Like me. "Do you want to -- ah, talk about sports?" He tried not to grimace too much.
Jamie laughed. "You hate sports."
"I don't ... okay, yes, I do. But you're crazy about them so ... how about those Dodgers? Or whatever?" Damien asked. He wanted the smile back. The lightness was a part of Jamie's being.
The other boy punched him gently in the arm. "You're always trying to make me happy. I appreciate that more than -- than I can say. But there are some things you can't gloss over. Some things you can't fix."
Damien went tense. Jamie didn't slink around subjects. There was no subtext. There just was the topic and he would discuss the topic openly. Whatever it was. Damien's weaves and dodges only helped him half the time.
"I don't know whether to be afraid by that comment or eager to hear what's on your mind," Damien confessed.
"Why did Cain adopt me?" Jamie asked.
Damien rubbed the bridge of his nose to gain time before answering. He thought he had made Jamie happy here. Made him understand that Cain was Cain. Nothing to be concerned with. Nothing to want or need. Had Cain made a pass at Jamie? No, he'd know about that. Cain had kept his word and stayed away from Jamie. Damien had rewarded him with more information on Targus. Cain was making the best deal of his life so it was doubtful he'd done anything.
"What's brought all this on?" Damien sidestepped the other boy's question.
"Well, I've seen him like twice since I got here and he hardly speaks to me. He's nice and all when he does, but it's not -- not like a family," Jamie explained.
"Thank god for that," Damien said under his breath. Cain's ideas on being a "father-figure" to his boys would not match Jamie's innocent understanding. He looked at the other boy's face closely and saw that Jamie wasn't saying what was really bothering him. "You want more of a family atmosphere or something?"
"I want -- want to know that this is a good place," Jamie said quietly. His head was down and his blond hair obscured his eyes.
Damien let out a hiss of breath through his teeth. "It's better than out there." He jerked his head towards the wall that surrounded the property. It was topped with metal spikes and there were security cameras and armed guards. They weren't to keep the Changed in, but to keep the normal humans out.
"Maybe. I know it's not like being adopted as a little kid or baby by people who want kids. And no one could ever replace Mom, Dad and Jessica anyways. It's just ..." Jamie swallowed hard. "I thought it would be different. A good place. A safe place."
"It's the best place we've got. I don't think a government institution would be better than this." Damien didn't know how to explain to a kid who had had a family who loved him, who thought him wonderful, that the options open to him were limited at best: death, life in a government run institution or life with a man like Cain.
"But why did Cain adopt us? He doesn't seem like the type to want kids. I mean we're all practically adults anyways. Cliff and Rowan are in their twenties," Jamie pressed.
"Because he -- he has an interest in the Changed," Damien said.
He senses the truth. Why don't I just tell him it? That Cain uses us and we use him back? Why do I want to keep Jamie thinking that this place could be something more than that?
"He's interested in our powers?" Jamie tugged at a frayed bit of fabric on the split knees of his jeans.
Eager to speak of something else, Damien huffed, "You've got a closet full of great jeans and you wear those."
"I like these! They're comfortable! The others are really nice, too. But." Jamie ducked his head.
"They're really expensive. For like special times. Not just being out here." Jamie gestured to the grass stains on his clothes.
"I don't know how you get all dirty. It's not like you roll around on the ground or anything." Damien's brow furrowed as he tried to remember where a particular stain on Jamie's hip had come from.
The other boy touched his bicep. Damien resisted the urge to move into the touch and head butt him like a cat wanting to be petted. He felt a mixture of irritation and surprise at himself each time he desired affection from Jamie. Not just sex. Not just mindless pleasure. But something else.
"Stop changing the subject. What does Cain want with our powers?"
"Whatever he can get," Damien said, dismayed that Jamie didn't let this go.
Damien glanced over at the other boy. The afternoon sunlight glanced off those stunning cheekbones. His blue eyes mirrored the cloudless day. There were streaks of gold showing up in his blond hair. Sunlight was the place for Jamie. Not the dark. Especially Cain's darkness.
"What does he get from Stephan?" Jamie asked.
"Stephan, as you know from his display of it every, single, meal as he mentally moves the dishes around at dinner is a telekinetic. He can get things for Cain that are otherwise inaccessible," Damien explained.
Stephan was the family thief. He was able to literally float secrets out of the most well-guarded industrial complexes. Cain needed a sample of the newest drug, Stephan had one flying into his hands. Cain wanted a rare painting that was guarded by a laser security system, Stephan could move the painting without setting off any of the alarms as he glided it away.
"And Troy?" Jamie prodded.
"He's for protection," Damien said simply.
Troy's gift was super strength. He was Cain's bodyguard. He could crush a man with one hand. Damien had seem him do it. Cain's would-be assailant went from an over six-foot man to a ball of broken flesh, crushed bone and jellied organs a foot in circumference.
"And Cliff's --"
"Are we going to play guess their powers now?" Damien asked more sharply than intended. "I'm sorry. I just don't want to talk about them."
His "brothers" had already tried to hurt Jamie the first night he was there, but Damien had taken care of it. The shadows had drawn blood and howls from all of them until they whispered promises to leave Jamie alone. Damien had stopped asking himself why he had gone out of his way for the other boy. He just did. And the pleasure in being with him, even when he was asking uncomfortable questions, was greater than anything Damien had ever known.
Plus it's quiet. So damned quiet. I don't have to hear the thoughts betray what his mouth has said. I can believe that everything that comes from Jamie's lips is the truth. No darkness hidden within him.
"What about you? What does Cain ask of you, Damien?" Jamie's blue eyes were guarded. His body tense.
Damien gritted his teeth. He hadn't told Jamie about the deal he'd made with Cain. The very point was to keep Jamie innocent. Not to scar him.
Do I think he'll believe what I do is honorable if he knows its for him versus digging into people's private lives for a sports car or money? Jesus.
Damien rubbed his temples. One of his headaches was coming on. He hadn't had one since Jamie had arrived. Jamie's hand was suddenly on the back of Damien's neck. He began to massage the tense muscles there. With a sigh of relief, Damien let his head fall forward and gave Jamie more room to touch him.
"That's what this is all about, isn't it? This whole conversation? You're -- you're worried about me?" Damien asked.
"You come back from those sessions with Cain and you're so ... I don't know. You're drawn, pale, and quiet. Your eyes look like black holes in your head --"
"All right! Enough with the commenting on my appearance. I look bad when I leave him. I get what you're saying." Damien had tensed again. Jamie diligently massaged his pale skin. He was tempted to ask him to do more than his neck. The thought of those hands on all his tired muscles was quiver-inducing.
But I'm not going to ask. He's not going to offer. And this is an exercise in stupidity. But Damien didn't move away from Jamie's gentle hands. He instead let his body relax into the touches.
"He shouldn't be asking for you to do things that hurt you like that," Jamie impressed on him.
Damien chuckled humorlessly. He'd closed his eyes as the massage continued. It made it easier for him to talk about Cain. "I thought I was sparing you from knowing that Cain doesn't have our best interests at heart, but you already figured that out by yourself." He opened his eyes and turned to look at the other boy.
"I'm not stupid," Jamie told him with a quirk of his lips.
"I know. Just naive." Damien said softly.
Jamie squirmed. "Maybe a little."
"Yeah, just a tad." Damien smile.
"A dollop?" Jamie was full out grinning now.
"A touch, definitely a touch," Damien laughed. This was a word game they played ever the first day. It was fun hearing old folksy expressions that teenaged boys did not use coming out of Jamie's mouth.
The other boy's sunny expression went serious again. "Are you going to tell me why you help him in ways that hurt you?"
"Because," Damien said simply. "But don't worry. You won't have to help him."
"Why?" Jamie's blue eyes captured him and held him in place.
"Because I don't know how throwing electric bolts can increase his bottom line." That was a lie, but it was a convenient one. Damien could think of lots of ways the threat of a lightening bolt would work against the competition.
"Yeah, I guess I see your point. But he adopted me anyways," Jamie said. "Even though he knew my powers wouldn't be useful."
Damien shrugged. "Maybe he thought you'd develop other powers later in life. Like some of the other Changed do. Or shit, maybe he thought you'd be a good backup generator in case ours fails."
Jamie snorted. "Yeah, I guess." He looked lighter, more relaxed. The concern had left his gaze.
Jamie nodded. "A bit." The the boy inexplicably ripped up some grass and flicked blades of it at Damien.
"What was that for?" Damien asked with a half-scowl.
Jamie was giving him one of his impish smiles. "I've mussed you up. You hate being mussed. What are you going to do about it?"
"Who says I'm going to do anything?" Damien asked. His fingers itched to pluck the grass off his pristine Henley. It was taking all of his willpower not to. "Are you bored or something? Not getting enough exercise out here all day long? Having me suffer in the sun and wind and all the elements is not amusing you enough?"
"I just like making you messy." Jamie accidentally tossed a clump of grass that had dirt attached to it. It splattered against Damien's chest. Jamie covered his mouth with a hand, already apologizing and laughing at the same time.
Damien's eyes narrowed as he surveyed the wreckage of his perfect outfit. He'd have to change at the very least. Maybe a shower too. But since he was already dirty, getting more so wouldn't be a problem.
"I'm sorry, Damien! Oh, man, you look so pissed. I really didn't mean it," Jamie said.
"But you're definitely enjoying it, aren't you?" Damien asked softly.
Jamie's smile grew even as he tensed. He knew that Damien was up to something. He was preparing to flee from it. "I -- ah, well, yeah."
Before Jamie could move, Damien launched himself at the other boy. They were a mass of tangled limbs as they rolled around on the ground. First, Damien having the upper hand then Jamie then Damien again. The press of Jamie's firm muscular body against his own, the boy's citrusy scent in his nostrils and the embrace of his arms around Damien had him soon becoming aroused. Both of them were laughing so hard though that Damien hoped Jamie hadn't noticed. but suddenly Jamie was pinning him down. Their faces were inches from one another's. The laughter in both died. Damien's breathing increased. He felt a matching erection to his own pressed against his hip. Jamie's blue eyes darkened.
"Jamie?" Damien breathed the name.
One of Jamie's hands was suddenly in his hair, feathering through the black strands. "Your hair is so soft. I thought it wouldn't be. But it is."
"You've been wondering about how my hair feels?" Damien asked quietly.
"I wonder about everything about you," Jamie confessed.
When Jamie's eyes half-closed and his head tilted, Damien knew they were going to kiss. On the lawn. In the sun. Tangled together like two puppies. It was sweet. Innocent. It was something he had never had.
He needs my help. I don't think he's ever done this before, Damien realized. He grasped Jamie's chin and lowered the boy's mouth to his own. Peaches. He tastes of peaches, but there aren't any in the house.
Jamie's hips lowered fully onto his own. Damien spread his legs and rested the other boy inbetween his thighs as the kiss continued. His cock pulsed, but he had no desire to speed things along. The kiss with its brush of soft lips, touches of tongues and sweet fruit bursts was enough for him. He wanted it to go on and on. Jamie made a soft needy sound when Damien sucked on his lower lip. The boy's pupils were blown wide. He looked almost dazed as they parted for air.
"So this is why you're so protective of him. Jesus fucking Christ, Damien, I never thought you'd fall for a pretty face," Stephan's derisive tone cut through them both.
Jamie jerked in Damien's arms. His blue eyes were wide with shock. Damien hissed low in his throat. He worried that Jamie would rabbit. That the other boy would deny what they were doing. After all, Jamie seemed straight. The perfect jock.
But he's not. He's with you. He's been wondering about your hair, damn it! But Damien wanted this too badly for it to work.
Only Jamie thankfully disappointed his expectations. The other boy actually gripped him tighter and shielded him from Stephan's gaze. Stephan laughed. His six-foot framed loomed over them. His short pale-blond hair that looked almost white and Nordic ice-blue eyes sparkled in the sun. He was scowling, hands on his hips, and tie tugged undone. It looked like he'd just gotten back from a business meeting.
"What the fuck do you want?" Damien asked. He didn't get up. He wouldn't bother for Stephan.
"Cain wants all of us in the house," Stephan spit out.
"Why?" Jamie asked.
Stephan gave a nasty laugh. "Because it seems that a group of Changed have decided to take over a city. They're calling themselves the Ruling Class."