Matthias carried the urn toward where the others were finishing up. He glanced over at Ted. “I appreciate this.”
Ted smiled. “She was your friend.” He looked over at where Ash was carrying the second urn. “What do we know about —”
“He was Adam’s friend.” Ash held the urn tightly.
“I meant birthday, things like that, Ash. For the markers.” Ted patted Ash’s shoulder.
“Patrick Delacroix.” Stephan read off the screen of his tablet. “Born July 7, 1971, in Graden, Texas. Joined the Navy in 89. Made it into the SEALS in 94. Less than honorably discharged in 98. No family. Parents died in 91, younger brother died in 98.”
Michaels stepped away from where he and Gabriel had been digging. “What was Rosa’s real name, anyway?”
“Emperatrix Consuela Rosenda-Orellana.” Then they all turned to look at him, Matthias shrugged defensively. “Don’t blame me. I’m the one that started calling her Rosa.”
“Gonna need help spelling that.” Laura looked up from where she was working on the markers. “But I can draw a rose or something.”
He listened while Father Williams intoned a prayer, then poured the cremains into the first hole. Ash did the same in the second hole. Magda and Gabriel carried the trees up, and they solemnly planted them. Matthias set the bricks down in a circle around Rosa’s tree, while Magda helped Ash do the same with Patrick’s. Their mole, Adam, had asked that Patrick be treated with respect. Since the man had rescued Ash, this seemed the least they could do. The apple trees already had blossoms. Daniel added some mulch around the bases. Considering it was Rosa’s resting place, maybe he should… He shook his head.
Anna giggled, and he turned to look at her. She shrugged up at him. “Wouldn’t that make the apples alcoholic?”
“Stop looking in my head.” He shook his head at her fondly.
“Tequila wouldn’t damage the roots. They aren’t set yet.” When Matthias glanced at him, Father Williams shrugged. “One doesn’t need to read minds to know what you were thinking.”
“Priests allowed margaritas?” He raised an eyebrow.
“All things in moderation.”
“Except sex.” Daniel grinned up at him.
“Except that, yes.” Father Williams smiled.
“Right.” Matthias chuckled. “Well, Rosa was pretty clear on how she wanted her funeral to go, so, uh…” He sighed, and gave Father Williams an apologetic look. “Look, the naked lady pinata was absolutely her idea.”
“I believe you.” He smiled. “Though I shall take my leave before any sombreros or donkeys make their appearance.”
“I am not wearing a sombrero.” Michaels glared.
“No sombrero…” Daniel gestured at the hat on his own head. “No margarita.”
“Are you over 21?” He narrowed his eyes.
“Uh…” Daniel started nodding. “Yes.”
“Is there alcohol in that?” He pointed at the drink in Daniel’s hand.
“Uh…” Daniel shook his head. “No.”
“Give me a margarita before I arrest you.” He rolled his eyes, then accepted the drink Daniel handed him. His eyes narrowed when he saw Laura holding a drink. It’s virgin, Magda made it. Right. And Anna is in bed. You can relax and have fun now. How the hell has Gabriel put up with a little voice in his head for so long?
“So what happens now?” Laura settled back on the couch.
“We’ve got names.” Matthias sat down, Daniel sat down next to him. Matthias immediately draped an arm over Daniel’s shoulder, and Daniel snuggled down against his size. He had a mental image of a kitten snuggling up next to a wolf.
“We save Adam.” Ash spoke up from where he was sitting curled up next to Magda with his head in her lap. Magda was stroking his hair. As odd a match as Matthias and Daniel were, he couldn’t help but think Magda and Ash were probably the weirdest couple he knew.
“Well, if you guys get in over your heads…” He glanced over at Gabriel and caught Gabriel’s nod. “Give us a call and we’ll come save your asses.”
“Same goes.” Matthias nodded to him.
“Erilon can keep tabs on everyone.” Ted salted the rim of a glass before handing it to Gabriel.
“And on the bright side, linking to everyone here means Michaels will be slightly less likely to get beaten up by lesbians.” Laura grinned.
“Do I even want to know?” Daniel looked up at him.
“No.” He took a drink. “And I’ll shoot anyone who tells you.”
Daniel took another sip of the margarita, and was forced to conclude that when it came to alcohol he was definitely a lightweight. He was already dizzy. He moved out of the way so Gabriel could reach the tequila, stumbling just a little. The man really was gorgeous. If he wasn’t with Matthias he’d have been entertaining all kinds of naughty thoughts in that direction. “I think I’m drunk.”
“What was your first clue?” Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
“I keep picturing you naked.” His eyes widened. “I just said that outloud and I didn’t mean to and I’m sorry but I was just thinking you’re really hot but I don’t mean anything by it cause Matthias and I are together and he’s hot too and I just flashed back to the dunk tank thing where you had the wet t-shirt on and I’m sorry and —”
“Relax.” Laura’s hand patted his shoulder. “I think the amount of leering going on during his shifts at the dunk tank just proves that Gabriel here makes even straight men question their sexuality.” She grinned and turned toward where Michaels and Stephan were talking. “Right?”
“No.” Michaels looked aghast.
“Little bit.” Stephan shrugged. When Michaels stared at him, Stephan twitched a shoulder. “What? He’s pretty.”
“I know.” Laura’s grin widened. “He raised over fifteen hundred dollars in the dunk tank. You and Matthias didn’t raise five hundred added together.”
“I’m not surprised.” Daniel gestured, spilling a little of his drink.
“You know, that should hurt my feelings but…” Matthias shrugged before nodding to Gabriel. “Really not surprised a succubus snapped you up.”
“Are we done objectifying me now?” Gabriel rolled his eyes.
“No.” Laura kissed his cheek.
“Did I at least make more money than he did?” Matthias gestured at Michaels before raising an eyebrow at Ted.
“You came out ahead by about a hundred bucks.” Ted nodded.
“Hah.” Matthias grinned.
“I took the first shift.” Michaels shrugged. “Before people started showing up.”
“Woof?” Ash tilted his head.
“You’d have beaten them both, easy.” Magda put her arm around Ash.
“Woof.” Ash smiled.
Ted started adding ice to the blender again. Stephan sat down at the chair next to the table serving as their little bar. “So, Magda and I were talking.” He shrugged. “We kind of disrupted the hell out of your lives showing up like we did, so uh…” He smiled. “If you want to take your girlfriend out for a night on the town it’s on us.”
“I run a center for LGBT youth…” Ted chuckled. “I’m curious as to why you think I have a girlfriend.”
“I…” Stephan shook his head. “Didn’t actually think about it, really. Well, same goes.” He looked up when Gabriel came over. “I was just telling Ted that if you want to take your girlfriend out for a night on the town we’d cover it.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.” Gabriel shrugged.
“Yes you do.” Michaels blinked. “I met her last year. Angela.”
“You’re dating a woman named Angela…” Stephan snickered.
“I was.” He accepted the drink Ted handed him. “I’m not anymore.”
“Well, you’re dating somebody.” Michaels took a drink. “You’ve spent enough weekends incommunicado to prove that.”
“Whatever…” Stephan laughed. “We’ll cover a night out for you and your significant other, where ever you want to go.”
“Appreciate it.” Gabriel nodded. Then he turned toward Ted. “Want to go try that new Indian place up on the pier?”
It took him a moment to process what had just happened. The fact that Michaels started choking on his drink made it clear he wasn’t the only one. A smile came to Ted’s face. Gabriel really wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about their relationship. He’d just asked him out on an actual date, in public. His heart started racing. “That sounds fun.”
“Wait…” Michaels closed his eyes for a moment, then reopened them. “What?” He looked at Gabriel. “What?” Then he looked at Ted. “What?” He shook his head. “What?”
Magda started laughing. “Way to go Teddy.”
“Woof.” Ash nodded.
Laura was snickering, while Matthias and Daniel both looked slightly stunned. Stephan stared at him for a moment before nodding. “Did not…” He picked up a margarita. “See that one coming.”
“What?” Michaels was still shaking his head in confusion. “How…” He took a deep breath. “How the hell long has that been going on?”
“Bit over a year now.” Gabriel took a sip from his own drink.
“You’re…” Michaels tilted his head. “Dating Ted.” He turned to Ted. “You’re…” He stared. “Dating Gabriel.” His eyes widened and he turned toward Laura. “You knew!”
“Nowhere near enough.” Laura threw her hands up. “Erilon absolutely refuses to give me any details at all.” That was actually something of a relief to learn.
“How the hell…” Michaels drained the rest of his drink. “Have you two been dating over a year without me knowing?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be a detective?” Matthias chuckled.
“I am going to shoot you.” Michaels set his glass down. “In the face.”
Part of her regretted the evening was starting to come to an end. This had been good. All of them together, as a pack. Even if Ted, Michaels, Gabriel, and Laura couldn’t join them on the road, they were still part of the pack. Laura had even made them all masks and dubbed them part of the Crimson Crusaders. Stephan and Ash had actually worn theirs for a while. Until Matthias had gotten tired of them both poking him and blaming the other one and had confiscated both masks. Ash was now curled up in Stephan’s lap, and she thought he might be asleep. She looked around for Matthias and noted him on the deck, talking quietly with Gabriel.
She turned to see Ted smiling at the group, and nodded. “Family.” She smiled. “I haven’t had one this big in almost a century.”
“I never expected to have one at all, but…” Ted looked over the bickering group. “Now I don’t know what I’d do without this little bunch of crazy people.”
“I know the feeling.” She turned back to watch them.
“So you’re saying you do actually know what it is now?” Daniel stared at Laura.
“Yep.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “But I’m not telling you.”
“How did you figure it out?” Daniel frowned.
“Ryuu told me.” She gave a smug smile. “And it’s the most awesome super power in the world.” She shrugged. “That you know, doesn’t involve being an archangel or a werewolf or anything.”
“Tell me.” Daniel glared.
“I can always ask Anna.”
“Pfft, she can’t get past Erilon.”
“Oh my god.” Michaels sat up.
“What?” They turned to him.
He looked around at them. “I just realized I have a super power too.”
Laura gave him a startled look. “You do?”
“I absolutely do.” He nodded. “I’m completely heterosexual.”
“Hey.” Stephan glared. “I’m straight.”
“Woof.” Ash shook his head in protest.
“Yeah, the fact that you two are currently half naked and snuggled up together kind of says otherwise.” Michaels snickered.
“Heterosexuality is not a super power.” Laura folded her arms.
“In this crowd?” Michaels gestured at the others before leaning back. “It absolutely is.” They all started throwing various things at him, and he laughed as he flung them back.
“Do you ever feel…” Magda glanced at Ted. “A little bit like a ringmaster?”
Ted exhaled. “All the time.”
Michaels looked down as his cell phone rang. The number was out of state. He shrugged, and answered it. “Detective Michaels.”
“Michaels. Hi.” The woman’s voice sounded familiar. “It’s Diana.”
He sat upright. “Diana, hi. I was just thinking about you.”
“So, when we parted ways, I kind of…” She trailed off. “I still have your handcuffs.”
“I uh…” He laughed. “I was wondering where those went.”
“Look, um…” She started talking a little faster. “I was going to be traveling through there next week and I was wondering if you’d like to get dinner or something.”
“I’d love to.”
“Great. Great.” She trailed off for a moment. “I was worried you’d say no, or not know who I was, or…” She went quiet. “I’m babbling. You would not believe the week I’ve had.”
“Oh…” He glanced over his shoulder at a house that contained witches, werewolves, angels, and a guy convinced he was a dog. “Bet I would.”