“I’m sorry what did you just say?” My dad said as his eyes grew wide and his facial expression telling me he was shocked with just what I’ve said to him.
“Chris... How is this possible?” My boyfriend asked me, he was standing beside my father, and we three were still in the kitchen.
Moments ago I just told them that I’ve physically gone to the Elvish Realm, and that I’ve lost track of time while I was training and chatting with Patri, my uncle, and Yal.
“Uhm... I really don’t know the specifics of it, but Patri said, I have enough magic to tear through the barrier between our world and theirs” I said, still having an apologetic expression plastered all over me.
“Is this suppose to be normal? Like are elves suppose to do that?” My father asked me, his expression of surprise now being replaced by a more curious look.
I was caught off guard with that question, should I tell them that I’m an exception to the rule? Like everything else that’s been recently thrown at me? With a sigh and a defeated look, I look at my boyfriend and my dad and say “not really...”
I paused a bit, collected my thoughts and with another sigh,
I continue “Patri said... that with the Pillars of a Portal two elves can get through, without a portal, at least six gold level elves...”
“So...? What does this mean?” Victor asked. He was now playing with his hands as he talked. I think already had an idea of what I was about to say.
“Well... Patri and Yal and evening Uncle Selvenus... say that they’ve never seen such power before”
“Selvenus?” Victor asked.
“Yeah... he’s my uncle, mom’s brother” I replied.
“Wait... you’ve met other people there?” Dad said.
“Actually, yes, but I’ve mainly stuck around with Yal, Uncle, and Patri,
I haven’t even stepped a single foot outside the palace”
“Does this mean you can go to the realm anytime you want?” Dad continued with his queries.
“I think so, but I haven’t tried doing it again, Patri thinks I just have to hone in on the energy signature of someone from the other realm for me to get there, I accidentally did it with Patri last night, and for me to get back I had to concentrate with Victor’s”
“Chris, you have to be careful with this, you could have gotten yourself into big trouble if you accidentally went to a dangerous area or have gotten lost” Victor said. He was looking a bit concerned and I do understand where he was coming from, especially with everything else that’s been happening around us.
“Yes, I know Victor, but I’m starting to learn more control, soon I’ll be able to control it, I hope” I said,
but actually deep inside I was doubting my ability to control my so called powers, but I had to make it appear that I was in control.
“Son, if you’re off to the realm, please let us know, you gave us one hell of a fright today” Dad said.
“I know dad, I’m sorry” I said as I went over to him and gave him a hug.
Victor then hugged me afterwards and gave me a peck on the lips. As he pulled away from our kiss, his eyes bored into mine and he said “don’t you scare us like that ever again”
“Yeah, I know, sorry”
“Don’t be, just be more careful okay?” His face filled with a sense of longing and love.
“Yes, I will”
An hour after the kitchen ordeal,
The three of us were having lunch together, we decided to have food delivered instead as dad and Victor were still emotionally drained from the scare they had in the morning.
“So how was the realm?” Victor asked me as we ate.
“I haven’t really seen much, but from what I’ve seen, well, the place and people look very similar to us, except with the pointy ears, but the palace... oh wow” I said remembering the opulence and grandeur of the palace. “The palace was amazing, it was grand! Like big and had very intricate designs carved into its pillars and ceiling, every carving was a piece of art in of itself” I explained with a hint of wonder in my voice.
“Will this change the schedule and manner we go to the realm? Since you’re now able to go through the barrier easily” dad asked.
“Hmm... I don’t know about that yet, I haven’t tried bringing people along with me, but I’m sure there’s a way, also, regarding the ascension, it seems we’re sticking with the original plan”
“Ah... I see, it’s getting closer and closer to the actual trip, and it’s making me nervous” dad replied.
“I’m really excited to introduce you both to everyone” I said to dad and Victor.
“Sigh. That’s just making me more nervous” my dad grumbled.
“Don’t worry about it dad, Patri and Uncle Selvenus are eager to meet you!” I reassured my dad. “And you too, Victor!” I smiled at my boyfriend.
“Won’t we stand out when we get there?” Victor asked. “You know... with us having round ears and such?”
“Hmm... they can change that, when I got to the palace, there were several stares but uncle fixed it, also explaining my new outfit, they have quite the taste in fashion there, very much into pastel and leans mainly into conservative and slightly classy looks.” I said.
“Oh... so they’ll give us pointy ears?” Victor asked with a hint of curiosity and maybe even excitement.
“Yeah..., looking forward to seeing you both with pointy ears” I giggled a bit.
“Hmm... I don’t know about that, I like my round ears” dad replied with a giggle as well.
“Oh, come on! It will be fun!
I encouraged them both.
Dad decided we skip lessons for today, but I insisted I can work on them on my own while he’s at the college. Victor will be keeping me company as I study.
“So are you gonna tell me about Stoker?” I asked Victor as I went through my math worksheet.
“What are you talking about?”
“Stop playing with me, do you know my results?” I gave him a very pointed look.
“Chris, I may be governor, but I am not privy to stuff like that” he seriously said.
“Yeah, right, so are you gonna make me wait?”
“Probably” Victor said with a smile.
“Ugh, whatever” I said. Then I looked back at my boyfriend and with a smile I said “Hmm... if I don’t get into Stoker, I may just have to go to UCLA or NYU or some college... hundreds of miles away”
Victor had a worried look on his face, his lips parted a bit as if to say something, then he calmed himself and said “you can’t blackmail me into telling you the results”
“So you do know the results!” I said back at him.
Victor was calm but he might have fidgeted a bit “I will not say anything to you”
“Hmm... I’ll make Leo ask August instead, maybe August will spill”
“No he won’t”
“I won’t be too sure about that”
I smiled at Victor. I loved teasing my boyfriend, I know he wouldn’t spill but seeing him squirm a bit is kind of fun.
“Chris, just wait a bit, the results will come tomorrow okay?” Victor said with a huff.
“Thanks! That’s all I needed to know”
Victor, now with a devilish smile approached me, and whispered to my left ear and said “Thank God you’re my boyfriend or I would have spanked you” after saying that Victor licked and nibbled on my ears making me moan a bit. “Playtime’s over, go back to studying” he said as he went back to his seat.
I grunted as I went back to working on several problems.
After finishing early with my worksheets, Victor and I decided to hang out at his place. As we walked towards Victor’s car, my boyfriend received a message on his phone.
“Seriously? Goodness...” he muttered as he read the message.
“What’s the matter?” I asked him.
“Vampire business... damn, and they just had to throw this at me and just out of nowhere” Victor said, his expression was hard to read.
“Why? What’s happening?” I asked.
“The High Council just notified me that I’ll be hosting an agent and his associate”
“A Stratos agent” he answered back.
“What? They’re already here?”
“The three Stratos agents flew into the US last night, one agent and its associate will be working from here for the next few days or so”
“This is good right? At last, some reinforcements right?” I said to him.
“Yeah... yeah, this is good, it’s just that it’s Stratos we’re talking about, these are the elite henchmen of the Vampire Government, I just didn’t expect that one will be working directly with us” Victor said.
I knew that the Stratos were a big thing in the vampire world, but with Victor’s reaction, I had a feeling that these people are really quite an intimidating bunch. However, it’s good to hear that we’re finally getting some help from the High Council.
Victor spent a minute or two on the phone with Henry, discussing the arrival of a Stratos agent and it’s associate. After their call I asked Victor “do you still want me to come with you?”
“Oh honey, of course” he said to me, trying to reassure me that my presence was still welcome.
“It’s just that I don’t want to be a bother or something” I said.
“Nope, you won’t be, trust me on this okay?, you’ll never be a bother especially to me, you’re my prince too you know?” He smiled at me and with a quick peck on the lips we were off to his car.
The drive to Victor’s place was quick. We immediately went to his study as we waited for the Stratos members to arrive.
Henry walked in on us and said “Boss, everything’s already set, two guest rooms for the agent and his associate. We’ve also prepared the updated briefing memo they’ve requested.”
“That’s good Henry.” Victor said.
“Any clue as to who it will be?” Henry asked.
“I don’t know Henry, we haven’t really had the chance to meet a Stratos member before, I’ve asked Luca of who the High Council decided to send but he just told me that the vote was unanimous for Stratos deployment, however as to who were sent, the High Council didn’t know as well, as the assignment of missions were all left to the Chief of Stratos to decide.” Victor explained.
“Oh, I see, it’s just that this is making me nervous” Henry said.
“Don’t worry Henry, just think of it as help from the higher ups, and isn’t it also an opportunity for us to see a Stratos agent work first hand?, maybe we can learn a thing or two” Victor said, trying to brush off the nervousness he had earlier as well.
Troy then knocked on the door to which he was invited in almost immediately. “Boss? Any idea on when the agents will be arriving? I’m preparing a snack for them” he said.
“I’m not exactly sure Troy, but maybe within an hour or so” Victor replied.
“Okay... I’ll have some sandwiches and juice prepared then”
“Thanks Troy” Victor said to his butler.
The three of us moved to the living room and talked some more, I’ve also shared with Henry the news of my overnight escapade to the elven realm. This left Henry asking tons of questions as his curiosity of the realm only grew.
A few minutes later, Troy came into the living room and said “Boss, they’re here, I’ve checked their identification as well, just like you taught me and all is clear” just after that Troy looked at me again and his face wrinkled a bit, he looked confused and then looked away, that was weird, I thought.
“Good, let them come here Victor said.
“Of course” Troy replied still looking weirdly at me.
Moments later, two guys in dark jackets and jeans and boots walked into the living room. Both guys had a mysterious yet very powerful aura around them. It wasn’t aggressive or anything but it surely was unnerving to say the least.
As I let my gaze set upon them,
I was drawn to one of the guys, it wasn’t his outfit or anything but the face! Goodness, it was as if I was looking at the mirror, same light blonde hair, light blue eyes, fair skin, Northern European features, his body was almost the same as me as well, the build of a soccer player, the only difference was he was just slightly taller than me maybe about 5’9 and he just looked slightly older than me, he was like my college version maybe early twenties or so. ‘Fuck’ I thought to myself, we could be easily be mistaken as brothers if not twins.
Victor and Henry rose from their sears and I followed a second later.
“Gustav?” Victor said to the blonde guy just above a whisper. Victor was clearly surprised seeing this guy, but it highly seemed that he knew the guy.
“Hey Victor, don’t be a stranger, come here and give me a hug” the blonde guy said. He then approached Victor and hugged him like an old friend, Victor at that point was at a lost for words, his thoughts were clearly not in this room. Henry stood silent as well, his face clearly showed recognition of the blonde guy and his face showed surprise as well. The Hispanic guy behind this guy called Gustav kept quiet, choosing to remain as an observant for now. The quiet hispanic guy looked to be late twenties, he had light brown eyes, stood at 6’ or so and had an athletic build as well, he had a nicely trimmed beard which highlighted his sharp features. The hug between Gustav and Victor lasted longer than what would have been expected, and just as Gustav pulled away from the hug, he gave Victor a quick peck on the lips, what the fuck was that all about? But anyway he must be an old friend or something, so I let it pass.
“Gustav?” Victor stammered a bit.
“Yes, it’s been a long time hasn’t it?”
Gustav replied with a smile. Gosh he had a good smile, I started to think of my smile is just as good as his.
“Yeah... 50 years, I guess”
“Yeah, I remember, 1968 in Paris right?”
What were these guys talking about? Hmm, seems like they knew each other from a long time ago. Must be really an old friend then.
Gustav then looked around and noticed me, he then said to Victor
“I already know Henry, I’ve met him several times before” he nodded to Henry and Henry nodded back. “Mind introducing me to this cutie?” Gustav said nodding towards me.
“Oh yeah, this is Chris, he’s a friend” Victor said.
‘Friend?’ Where did that come from? I thought, Victor never just labeled me as a ‘friend’ before.
“Hmm... Hi Chris, you’re quite the looker aren’t you” he smiled at me.
“Hi, nice to meet you” I said not entirely sure about how to act around Gustav, this guy was like a better looking version of me, and his aura kind of intimidated me, just looking at him unnerves me.
“Nice to meet you as well, this guy behind me is my associate, Nicolas”
The Hispanic looking guys nodded towards us and said “Nice to meet you all, I’m the associate of Agent Gustav, I’m looking forward to working with all of you” Nicolas formally responded.
“Welcome to Virginia” Victor said to both guys. Then he looked at Gustav, and said “So you’re in Stratos now?”
“Yeah, been with them for almost 20 years now, though I’ve only been promoted to an agent 6 years ago”
“Wow... I’m happy for you Gustav,
I know you’ve always wanted to join them, it’s been so long, so much has changed” Victor said.
“You still remember that eh?” Gustav warmly smiled at Victor.
“Of course I do, we’ve had long chats about it” Victor’s attention was now fully on Gustav. They were talking like really old friends now, their body language were too familiar with each other for my liking. Am I jealous? I thought.
Then their conversation settled into their time traveling around Europe in the 1950s, it was as if the remaining three people in the room weren’t even there. Nothing in their discussion made it seem that they had anything more than a friendship or could they be censoring their conversation for the benefit of the rest? I was slowly slipping into jealousy, this is so weird, I’ve never felt this jealous before, is there something that I should know?,
I gave Henry a questioning glance as if to ask for an explanation about what was transpiring in front of me. Henry’s gaze however tried to avoid me. He seemed like he felt awkward. It was as if he didn’t want to discuss this with me.
Then the conversation between Victor and Gustav became more official. “So you’re assigned here with us?” Victor asked.
“Yeah, your intelligence briefing says you’re monitoring at least 4 cells of the Blood Army within your district, your intel memo was the most comprehensive amongst the other districts so we thought we should start from here, sweep the district clear then move on to the next”
“Oh I see, We’re glad to be having your help in here, these rogues have become quite a bother”
Gustav then looked at Victor then at me, as if to ask if it’s okay to discuss such matters in front of me. At that point, it was as if Victor suddenly just remembered of my presence, he collected himself and said to Gustav “don’t worry about Chris, he’s fine, he knows”
Gustav was a little bit confused at that but just said “oh, I see, okay... let’s discuss some more then”
“So what’s the plan? The High Council just notified me of your arrival a few hours ago”
“Well, sorry about that, Stratos keeps the information about the missions highly guarded, I didn’t even know I was going to be assigned to your district up until a few hours before we landed at New York last night.”
“Ah... I see, no worries, just didn’t expect to be working with an agent so soon”
“Congratulations about the promotion anyway, hmm... District Governor eh? Not bad” Gustav said to Victor.
“I’ve been Governor for quite awhile now... but thanks anyway, congrats on making it to Stratos as well” Victor said.
“It’s been so long hasn’t it?” Gustav was now becoming for familiar with Victor again. Gustav’s gaze on Victor were longer than necessary, it was as if he was enjoying this moment with Victor, as if it’s something he’s been looking forward to.
“Yeah... been quite long, you’re right” Victor said a little more pensive now.
Mark then walked in on us with a tray of sandwiches. He greeted us all with a smile, he said to Victor “Troy has prepared these for you” then he took a sweeping gaze of everyone in the room and he took a double take with me and Gustav, he clearly was confused with which one was which.
I then helped Mark out and said “I’m Chris”
“Oh... sorry about that” Mark said.
“No worries, but the resemblance is uncanny isn’t it?” Gustav said.
“I’ve forgotten how close they look alike, I haven’t seen Gustav for so long but seeing him today just reminded me why Chris looked so familiar the day we first saw him” Henry said not talking to anyone in particular more of talking to himself out loud.
“What’s that Henry?” I asked.
“Nothing, just that yeah, you do look alike”
I laughed a bit and just said “no shit, it’s like I’m looking at the mirror”
I said to which Gustav laughed and agreed. While Gustav and I were laughing, Victor and Henry both just seemed uncomfortable. “Are you okay Victor?” I asked.
“Huh? Yeah I’m fine” Victor replied.
“Okay... but don’t you find it quite amusing that we look so much alike!” I said to Victor.
“Yeah... I suppose so” Victor said, avoiding Gustav’s gaze and mine.
“Chill out Victor, it’s just one very weird coincidence.” Gustav said to Victor.
“Yeah... it sure is” Victor replied with a smile that I thought was slightly forced. Something weird was clearly happening here, but I just couldn’t point out what it was. They interacted like good old friends but there’s some sort of tension between this as well, Ugh, this is seriously confusing.
Then the conversation went back to Vampire affairs. “So do you think you can sweep the District clean?” Victor asked.
“We’ll deal with the ones in Virginia first then the one over the border in North Carolina, just lend me a few of your agents and we’ll sweep them allin 4 days”
“That’s fast” Henry commented.
“Henry... are you forgetting that you’re dealing with Stratos now?”
Gustav smiled at Henry.
“Oh, sorry bout that, it’s just that it’s impressive”
“Well lots of things have changed since we last saw each other, I’m with Stratos now, and Victor here is a Governor, but I think some things will never change” Gustav looked at Victor when he said the last few words.
A few minutes later, I excused myself to the kitchen, the pitcher had ran out of juice and I volunteered to refill it, I was also starting to feel out of place with their conversation so I decided to make myself scarce for a bit.
I then walked into the kitchen bringing with me the empty pitcher, Troy and Mark were there talking with each other. Troy saw me first, he paused for a bit and then asked “Chris?”
“Yeah, of course it’s me” I smiled at him.
“Just has to ask, you and that agent look so much alike, it’s ridiculous” Troy said.
“I know, it’s actually very weird being with him in a room, it’s as if I’m looking at myself from the outside”
“No shit” Mark chimed in.
“Anyway, can you help me refill this pitcher?” I asked Troy.
“Just leave the used one here, there’s a fresh batch in the refrigerator” Troy said.
“Oh, okay thanks!”
While I was getting the already filled pitcher in the refrigerator, Gustav walked in on me while my butt was on display as I was bent over to get the pitcher.
“Hmm... even the ass is the same” he giggled at that.
“We even have the same ass” he laughed.
“Oh really?” I said as I laid the pitcher on the table and then rubbed my ass.
Gustav laughed as I did that. Then he said “so you and Victor know each other long?”
“Just since September when he moved here”
“Ah I see, it’s rare for Victor to make friends so easily with humans, you must be special eh?” He said.
“Ah, I don’t know about that, but Victor’s a good guy”
“You’ve been taking this vampire thing pretty well, I would have been freaked out if I was human” Gustav replied.
“Ah, it was surprising for sure, but it is what it is, and Victor’s pretty cool, and nice” I didn’t want to bring up that Victor and I were intimate, maybe that’s for Victor to say. Then I added “So ... you and Victor are quite close eh?”
“Yeah, we’ve known each other for almost a hundred years now”
“Wow. That’s a long time” I said. Quite weird thought that Victor has never mentioned Gustav to me.
“Yeah, we’ve both traveled together quite a bit, I haven’t really gotten to know Henry or the rest of his progeny that well, mainly it was just me and Victor traveling before, I do think I’ve met Patrick once in London in 1930 something and Lucy twice in 1936 and 1941, and oh my... the places we’ve been together, Ah... the good old days” Gustav said as he reminisced his times together with Victor.
“Sounds like you both were pretty close” I said.
“More than close” Gustav said to me with a wink.
“Victor’s my ex, we’ve been in and on and off again relationship since the 1920s, though our last break up was in 1968, this is the longest we’ve been away from each other, but he always does come back you know” Gustav said as he giggled with that remark.
As Gustav said that, it was as if my heart stopped beating, is this why Victor is dating me? Because I reminded him of an old lover? Who was clearly better looking than me, and someone who seemed very sure of himself, and someone who actually knows Victor and has spent decades with him. How do I compete with that? I could feel tears welling in my eyes, but I had to collect myself and not show my feelings, now wasn’t the time to cry, I can do that all night later.
“Are you okay Chris?” Gustav asked as he noticed me go quiet all of the sudden.
“Huh?” I looked back at him. “Yeah, I’m fine, come on let’s bring this pitcher back”
“Yeah sure, but let me get some water too, almost forgot that’s the reason I’m here”
Gustav and I walked back to the living room, Victor and Henry were in deep conversation with Nicolas, it seems they were discussing their first operation against the Blood Army. As the four of them talked some more about the operation,
I started to lose myself deep in thought. And the longer I spent deep in thought, the closer I approached a total breakdown. I had to get out of here I thought.
I texted my dad “dad are you back home?”
A few seconds later, “yes, what’s the matter kiddo?”
“Can you pick me up at Victor’s?”
“Yeah, sure, what’s the matter? Can’t he drive you home?”
“Nah, he’s just busy with this Vampire stuff, it’s boring me”
“Ok, I’ll be there in a few”
“Okay, I’ll be waiting just outside”
A few minutes later I said my goodbyes to them, but the four of them were all deep in conversation that no one even heard me, so much for a goodbye I thought.
I walked out, and was deep in thought and on the verge of crying when my dad pulled in on the curb.
“Everything okay son?” My dad said as he noticed my facial expression.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just tired, and bored” I huffed.
“Ah, okay, let’s grab some dinner and then you can go to bed early”
I was quiet during the entire drive back home, during dinner I mainly just played with my food, dad had to stir me out of my deep thoughts several times to remind me to eat and finish my food.
After dinner, I excused myself immediately to my bedroom.
I locked the door as I went into my room, it’s something I rarely do, and mostly only when I’m upset.
I collapsed into my bed, the tears immediately flowed from my eyes onto the sheets and pillows.
I had to stifle my cries as I didn’t want to risk the off chance that dad could hear me, with me acting weird, I’m sure he’d be trying to listen in from the hallway.
I willed myself to sleep but my body and mind just wanted to cry some more.
At 10:43a text came from Victor “Chris? Where are you?”
Wow, more than four hours before he started looking for me.
I didn’t reply.
10:45“Chris? Did you leave?”
10:46 - 1missed call
10:48 - 2missed calls
10:52 - 3missed calls
10:54- “Chris, where are you?”
10:56 - 4missed calls
10:58 - 5missed calls
11:03, my dad knocks on my door. “Chris? Are you alright?”
With a fake drowsy voice, I replied “huh? Why? Yeah... I’m fine”
“Ah, just checking, Victor called me and asked me to check on you”
“Oh, I’m fine, just sleeping”
“He’s on the phone with me right now, want to talk to him?” My dad asked.
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow, I’m too sleepy now”
“Okay. I’ll let him know then”
“Okay. I’m going back to sleep now, good night dad”