Ash fought the urge to laugh. He remained curled up on the bed, every inch the dog. Even though he knew there was a good chance Sima and Wren would end up taking their frustrations out on him, he couldn’t help but be pleased as he listened to them rant. They’d sent people after his friends. His friends had won. Sima wanted him to think her all-powerful, the flawless mistress. She wasn’t. Despite what she’d done to Adam, he defied her. Adam smiled, played the pet, and the moment Sima looked away, Adam defied her. For all her confidence, all that she was a witch wolf, Sima was only human. Adam defied her. And if Adam could, so could he.
He added those words to his mantra as the woman turned their attention back to him. And to Adam. He tried not to flinch as Sima ordered Adam to join him on the bed. Adam smiled as he stood, the motion calm and fluid. “Why not?” Something flickered a little across Sima’s face. He realized Sima had wanted Adam to balk. Instead, Adam…
Adam caught his hair and tilted his head back slightly to kiss him. Ash returned the kiss. Lisa had made him get on his hands and knees. He’d survived her. He could survive this. To his surprise, instead of making him get into position, Adam shoved him down onto his back. The other man kissed him again, then began trailing kisses down his stomach. He let out a gasp as Adam’s mouth encircled his cock. Okay. That was something new.
Despite her worry over Ash and how just plain exhausted she was, Magda couldn’t help but smile as Laura flung herself at Gabriel. Gabriel actually looked a bit startled to find himself holding her as she wrapped both arms and legs around him in a full glomp. “Uh…” He didn’t even get the question out before Michaels just hugged both of them.
“I’m so glad you’re not dead.” Laura clung to him tightly.
“What the hell happened?” Michaels took a step back. “You came back to life or…”
“I wasn’t dead, just…” Gabriel shook his head and made an attempt to extract himself from Laura. He failed. “I don’t know.” He glanced over his shoulder at Ted.
“And it may be best to leave it at that.” Ted nodded. “The ones who came here were dealt with…” Ted shrugged. “Rather decisively. I have it on, uh…” Ted laughed softly. “Very good authority the child is safe now.” He looked around, and then his smile faded. “Where is Ash?”
“We’ve got folks casing the hotels now, but…” Michaels looked around at them.
“You all look half dead on your feet.” Ted nodded. “Anna isn’t cleared to leave the hospital yet, but I arranged a few rooms at the motel across the street.”
“Ted I’m going to nominate you for sainthood.” Daniel nodded.
“You might have a better chance than you think.” Gabriel shrugged, then made another attempt to extract himself from Laura. That too, failed. “Little help here?”
“You brought that on yourself, partner.” Michaels smiled.
“Everyone get some rest. We’ve still got a man out there.” Matthias drew himself up to his full height. “And we are not leaving him behind.”
“Excuse me?” Father Williams approached. “Anna asked me to tell you all that Ash is still somewhere in the city. She can’t pinpoint his location, but he’s still close enough she can feel his presence.”
“We’ve still got plan B.” Michaels nodded.
“We have a plan B?” Gabriel blinked at him.
“Yeah.” Michaels shrugged. “The Cabal wanted the kid, but our mole said the ones in charge also specifically wanted you and me. We can play bait. Erilon can find us anywhere.”
“Let’s sleep on it…” Stephan sighed. “Assuming any of us can sleep.”
“I will stay with Anna.” Father Michaels nodded. “Doris isn’t leaving her anytime soon as it is.”
“They won’t be coming back to the hospital.” Gabriel tried scrapping Laura off onto a nearby door frame. It didn’t work. Of course, he didn’t exactly try very hard.
“You can’t be sure of that.” Matthias frowned.
“Yes.” Ted glanced up at Gabriel. “He can.”
“Come on.” Stephan touched Magda’s arm. She swallowed, and he sighed. “Mags, you can’t help him if you’re so exhausted Sima can take you out.”
“Right.” Magda nodded. “You’re right.”
The mere mention of Sima’s name had driven Ash to flee, to crawl under a bed and hide. Surrounded by friends, Ash hadn’t been able to do more than hide behind a couch. He could all too well remember how the other man had clung to Adam’s cat form. Despite knowing that Ash was an adult at least a year older than he was, he couldn’t help but think of the other man as a child. Ash was keeping it together, but he really didn’t want to risk harming the guy’s mental state more.
So he took Ash into his mouth and ran his hands over the other man’s body. If he submitted, they wouldn’t make him hurt Ash. He ran his tongue over Ash’s cock, and felt it respond. What was it Sima’d asked? Fuck a dog or suck a cock. Bitch had found a way to make him do both. But even cooperation could be defiance if he set the terms right. He worked his mouth over Ash, caressing Ash’s shaft with his tongue even as he caressed Ash’s body with his hands.
It didn’t take long before he had Ash moaning and squirming, making eager little whimpering sounds. Then Adam raised his head and met Ash’s eyes. “What about it, Ash?” He smiled. “Want to fuck me?”
Ash’s eyes widened, and Adam winked at him. Immediately Ash responded by smiling and nodding before barking. As he shifted position, he saw Sima and Wren had their hands all over each other. Watching their pets play. Ash’s hand came down on his and squeezed just bit before the other man took up position behind him. Letting his kidnap victim take up the dominating role seemed a mild enough way to atone, but he appreciated the little gesture.
He arched his back as Ash entered him, then felt a small bit of surprise when Ash sent a hand forward to fondle him gently. He couldn’t help but note that Sima looked a bit put out by watching her pet take the top. But he knew she couldn’t say anything without raising questions from Wren. Sima’s face darkened a little as she noted Ash had every intention of making sure Adam got off as well.
Somehow, that made getting fucked worth it.
He had to have Magda help him to the bed. His leg had given out on him before they left the hospital, and Matthias had simply purchased another wheelchair. Magda sat down on the side of the bed, and he put a hand atop hers. “We’ll get him back, Mags.”
“I should never have left the two of you alone.”
“I should have never let those two get that close.” Stephan took a deep breath. “When the guy got hold of me, instead of running Ash jumped on his back, tried to fight.”
“And now he’s back with Sima. Who knows what she’s doing to him?” Magda’s shoulders started to shake.
“Hey, hey…” He scooted over on the bed to make room. “Come here.” When she laid down next to him, he wrapped his arms around her. “We’ll get him back.”
“We’ll get him back.” She held him tightly. “We will…” She took a ragged breath. “Get him back.” Then she swallowed. “Ted got me a room but…”
“You’re staying right here.” He nodded, and rubbed her back gently.
“I can’t let you out of my sight right now.” She put her head on his shoulder. “I just can’t.”
He got Laura to release him by threatening to simply walk into the motel’s pool. “You scared the shit out of me, Hero Boy.” Michaels put a hand on his shoulder. “Erilon told us you were gone.”
“I…” Gabriel frowned. You scared me too. I know. He remembered the elevator door opening. Then he remembered Ted hugging him and crying. Everything in between was a blank. “I think I was.”
“Well…” Michaels exhaled. “Ah, fuck it.” He grabbed Gabriel and pulled him into a hug. “Stop dying on me, partner. It’s really starting to piss me off.”
“Every superhero needs a gimmick.” He shrugged, but he hugged Michaels back.
“I’m going to kick him.” Laura folded her arms.
“Alright.” Michaels stepped away. “Let’s get some sleep and…”
“Figure out how to rescue Ash.” Laura nodded.
They left to go to their rooms. Gabriel sat down on the edge of the bed, then felt Ted’s hand on his shoulder. “I know we are all too exhausted for…” Ted’s voice trembled a little. “But I need to hold you.”
Gabriel nodded, then turned and kissed him. “Feeling is…” He touched his forehead to the other man’s. “Kind of mutual. You…” He put a hand on the back of Ted’s neck. Ted’s mouth came down on his, and then Ted gently pushed him back onto the bed before laying down next to him.
“Come here…” Ted opened his arms.
Obediently, he crawled inside, letting Ted hold him tightly as he listened to the man’s heart beating. “Thank you.”
Daniel got breakfast ready for everyone. He’d barely finished when they all started to emerge, dressed and ready to go. He handed out plates and coffee cups as they headed for the cars, then grabbed his own and followed.
Six hours later, there was still no sign of Ash when they regrouped at the hospital. He felt sick, but Anna assured them Ash was still somewhere in the city.
“We could start kicking doors open.” Gabriel leaned on the wall.
“That’ll cost you and Michaels your jobs.” Magda swallowed. “We’re lucky events so far haven’t.”
“If it gets Ash home safe…” Michaels started to nod.
“They’ll stop you guys one hotel in.” Stephan hung his head. “You’re going to have enough to answer for later.”
“Alright.” Matthias ran a hand through his hair. “Let’s make another pass. They’ll have to leave the rooms sometime. We’ll catch their scent.”
“There are half a million people in this city, and…” Magda took a deep breath. “No. We can’t give up now. He’s still here. We’ll find him.”
Ash tried not to cower. His friends were systematically searching the hotels. Sima’d decided to send him away, and he’d been put into a van. Sima was sending him away. How would Magda find him if Sima sent him away? He swallowed, then tried to contain a sigh of relief when Adam got into the van. It might be a false hope. Adam said he would take time before he could help. The dark haired young man grinned and tossed a joke off to one of the guards before sitting down. “Mind if I hitch a ride? Need to pick something up at the airport.”
“Sure, kid.” The guard nodded. As the vehicle started moving, the guard shrugged. “You’re Adam, right?” When Adam nodded, the guard smiled. “Little relieved to have you along, actually. Two fucking waves sent in like lambs to the slaughter. Heard about you. Why didn’t they send you in to deal with the alpha?”
“Sima wanted me close.” Adam leaned back. “Seemed to think protecting her ass was more important than the mission.”
“Fuck. She’s hot, but nobody’s ass is that good.” The guard rolled his eyes. “She’s got four of us transporting her damn pet.”
“Preaching to the choir.” Adam shrugged before closing his eyes, and apparently relaxing. The guards talked a little. One of them reported over a phone, telling someone what had happened and that Sima had kept Adam away from Matthias. The idea that the other man could take on Matthias was strange. Adam was a little smaller than Ash himself. Then again, the other man had turned into a really large snake. And a dragon had seen fit to warn them about him.
The cell phone in Adam’s pocket made a buzzing sound. Adam took it out, looked at it, then smiled. “Thank you, Mama Bear.” Then he opened the window and tossed the phone out.
He had just enough time to blink before Adam drew a gun and shot the driver in the back of the head, splattering brains all over the window. Two more cracks of thunder, and the two men in the back were dead as well. The second had barely gotten his weapon out of its holster. The passenger actually tried opening the door to flee, but Adam shot him anyway. The van rolled to the side of the road and hit a tree with just enough force to make Ash fall over. “Woof?” He sat back up.
“So, anyone asks…” Adam looked back at him. “Shooter was a one-armed man.” He quickly unfastened the cuffs around Ash’s feet and ankles. “St. Adrian’s church is two blocks north. Move.”
With a sharp nod, Ash opened the door and started to get out of the van. He was momentarily grateful he’d been allowed to put on sweat pants for the transportation. He took two steps before turning back. “Come with me.”
“Can’t.” Adam shook his head. “She’s still got my leash. Now move.”
“Adam?” When the other man met his eyes, Ash smiled. “Dance.”
“On their fucking graves.” Adam nodded. Then he stepped out of the vehicle. Ash’s eyes widened as the man shifted. The clothes he’d been wearing fell to the ground as a raven flew south. Ash swallowed, then started running north.
She sat down and put her arm around Stephan. Last night he’d been her rock. But she could see that the search was taking its toll on him. Between this and the fighting yesterday, he was still clearly exhausted. Daniel’s overuse of power had knocked him out, and Stephan was still recovering from a concussion. Plus they still didn’t know exactly how his power even worked. According to Daniel, right now he had to go nearly a hundred feet from Stephan to heal a scratch. “You should rest.”
“I’ll rest when we find him.” Stephan shook his head. He started to put his hands on the wheels of the chair, and she caught them.
“Please.” Her voice broke a little. “I can’t lose you too.”
“Mags, I can’t just…” His shoulders shook. “He’s…”
Her phone rang. She sighed. The caller ID showed St. Adrian’s church. Perhaps one of Father William’s people had found something. “Hello?”
“Magda, this is Sister Margaret. Your young man just arrived at my office. I think he wants to talk to you, but he’s having trouble with his words.”
The phone nearly fell out of her hand. “Ash?” She saw Stephan’s eyes widen. “Ash is there?” She stood and grabbed the wheelchair’s handles as the others started to come toward her, smiling.
“Ash, yes.” Sister Margaret’s voice was the same. “You know, I’ve been calling him Ace but I knew that wasn’t right. Oh, look, now he’s nodding. Yes. Ash.”
“We’re on our way.” She swallowed, and felt tears starting to fall. “Tell him we are on our way.”