Clay's mind was whirling. What the hell was going on? He walked into the council fully intending to announce he had a guest and his guest was seriously injured, thus unable to present himself. That he would bring the boy here at a future date to drop this problem in the council's lap.
He didn't expect for all five of them to smell his scent on him and from the appreciative sniffs the other Ad'ns took when he walked in, he knew even they could smell Devon on him.
He didn't understand. He hardly touched the boy. How did the boy managed to saturate himself on him that much that other could smell him that clearly.
And why did everyone smell Devon differently?
"Who is he?" Elder Larren took charge, as was his right as the Eldest.
"I... he... How..." Clay ran his fingers through his hair, tousling it. "I need to sit down."
Elder Masith waved an Ad'n over with a chair. "Let's all sit. We have much to talk about."
Clay slumped into a chair, his head full of questions he couldn't even articulate. Just what was going on? The Five pounced on him, plying him with questions from him when all he wanted was answers.
"He's Carlorian?" Elder Thomas pressed.
Clay shrugged. "I... I think so. His brother definitely was."
"Was?" Elder Tuou repeated sharply.
"He... was killed," Clay said, his head bowed and regret staining his voice deeply.
There was a sharp gasp resonation around the room. It was horrifying to lose a member of their community when one was so young and their numbers dwindling so fast.
"He was... he was an Ultimate," Clay choked out, unable to stop the tears from gathering in his eyes. He was so close, so very close. But that damn Devon had to ruin his only wish. His one wish to have a family.
"An Ultimate like yourself?" Elder Masith guessed hopefully. It was obvious to Clay he didn't want to think of any other alternative.
Clay raised his head and gave Masith a sharp glare with his cold amber eyes. "He was an Ultimate to match me. He had violet eyes," he enunciated clearly.
The tomblike silence was back. The entire room was choking with a sense of loss.
Clay knew exactly how they felt. After all, Declan would have been his mate. No one would have refuted his claim. Instead, they would rejoice at the strength of their children and the strength of the blood returned to them.
"And his brother?" Elder Vincent ventured.
"Did nothing to protect his brother," Clay spat bitterly. "Instead, his brother got killed protecting an Ad'n."
He felt all the Ad'n's hackles rising at this. This was no trivial matter. It was the duty of the Ad'n to protect the Ch'm. For a Ch'm to die protecting the protector, it was a sin beyond anything in their society.
"We must call him to be judged and punished," Larren decreed.
"Wait," Masith said. "Hold, Larren." He looked down at Clay. "You say he is a lost member?"
Clay nodded tightly.
"And that he had no knowledge of who he is or what our society is?" Masith continued.
Clay nodded again.
"He's a child?"
"He's fourteen or fifteen," Clay explained. "So yes, still very much a child."
"And you blame him for killing his own brother?" Masith's voice rose with reproach.
Clay and the other cringed. Elder Masith was a Ch'm of great patience unless riled. It was extremely difficult to get Masith's temper stirring but it was clear to everyone that Clay had done the almost impossible.
"We cannot blame someone who is ignorant of who and what he is. We cannot blame someone for taking away a dream he knew nothing of," Masith laid Clay bare with his hot glare, causing the young Ad'n to shrink away in shame.
Masith took a deep breath and addressed his other Four. "What we need to discuss and find out is, why we have a Carlorian who doesn't smell like one, and makes us smell our fondest wishes?"
"And who might he parents be," Larren offered, to a silent room.
Now that was a million credit question.
Clay left the manor with a headache and feeling like he was five years old. No one could make him feel insignificant faster than Elder Masith. It could be due to the fact that Masith was his grandpapa. His parents had left him with Masith at a young age, wanting to see the world and what it had to offer. They were somewhere halfway across the earth right now, sending Clay random letters but was never around when he truly needed them. Since Masith was the source of why he would have needed their comfort, Clay didn't want his grandpapa around either. In essence, Clay had always been an orphan of sorts, preferring to live his own life and do things his own way. It had worked well thus far.
Right now, he was raring for a fight. It was because of that idiot Devon, that stupid boy he got a dressing down in front of the Council of Elders yet again. It was because of him that he was ordered to take him under his wing and to teach him the fundamentals of being Carlorian until more could be investigated of his background.
Since there were no reported missing Carlorians, the Elders were going to look into the possibility of it being a 'lost one'. While rare, it wasn't impossible for lost ones to return to being attracted to Carlorians once again, if the novelty of living like a 'normal human' had wore off. It just might be the case with Devon's parents.
He slammed into his apartment feeling surly and out of sorts only to be met by an angry glare of mother hen Justin.
"He's sleeping, softer please," Justin hissed, clearly not happy.
I don't care if he is sleeping, wake him up for all I care, was what Clay wanted to say but judging by Justin's mood, it just wasn't the time to mess with a Ch'm, who could be more vicious than a fully enraged Ad'n.
Michael emerged from the room that was now Devon's and indicated with a tilt of his head that they should go to the living room.
"Well?" Justin asked when they were all settled. It was clear he was keeping an ear out of Devon, just in case he woke up.
Just what was this boy made of that made everyone so protective of him? Even Clay on occasion, but he would never admit to it.
"What does the boy..." Clay started.
"Devon," Michael corrected irritably.
"What does the boy..." Clay stressed belligerently. "...Smell like to you?"
Justin tilted his head. "That's an odd question."
Michael stared into space, tapping a finger against his lips thoughtfully.
"Like a newborn baby," Justin said.
"Precisely," Michael agreed.
Clay found his jaw hanging. This was the first time he had someone agree on what Devon smelled like.
"Why?" Michael asked, frowning in confusion. Doesn't he smell like that to you?"
Clay pursed his lips and then asked. "What's your dream, I mean, what's your most wished desire?"
Justin exchanged a pained glance with his mate, reaching out to clasp their hands together. "We want to have a baby, to start a family."
Michael pulled Justin close, and kissed him comfortingly, allowing his mate who was radiating pain, to snuggle against him. "We will, my love, we will have children."
Children, babies... The thought clicked in Clay's mind.
"He smells like dreams, he smells of desires," Clay exploded.
"I do not desire him," Michael announced, appalled.
Clay shook his head, frustrated that he was unable to make himself clearer. "No, no... not desire... desires... he smells of what you wished most in the world, or if you have nothing that you wish for, your fondest memories. He smelled like Elder Tuou's bearer, like sunset to Elder Vincent and like peace and security to Elder Thomas."
His friends were now stunned. "How can that be possible?" Justin gasped.
"What does he smell to you?" Michael asked quietly.
Clay raised sad golden eyes to meet Michael's. "He smells like family."
Devon sat under the shady tree on top of a lone hill. It was one of those clichéd scenes he expected to see in movies or read in books. Come on, just how easy was it to find a lone hill with a lone tree right on the top of it? Apparently, golden man and his friends could find one quite easily. Especially when the land around it was apparently owned by them... or someone they knew... or something.
They were an odd bunch, with a lot of secrets and some terms that were being thrown around that he couldn't exactly comprehend. They also acted oddly around him. Clay, that golden one from his dreams, was absolutely furious whenever Declan was brought up. Whenever he brought Declan up. It was as if Clay blamed him for Declan's death or something. Sure, he felt guilty his brother was dead, but it wasn't as if he wouldn't switch places with Declan in a heartbeat. It was completely unfair and part of him hated Clay for making him feel like a heel.
But he had to admit that they found a perfect place to put Declan. He took a deep breath and smiled when the wound in his side didn't pull. He was almost healed, Michael had assured him but he could have told Michael that. He healed fast anyway.
"Where... where is my brother?" Devon asked once he was well enough to walk five steps without anyone's aid.
Justin smiled sadly at him. "We'll take you there."
So, back to the hill and the tree. They put Declan in a spot where there was nothing but green, green grass and clean, clean air as far as the eye can see. Devon's lips twisted in a bittersweet smile. It was a place where Declan and him would dream about, would talk about. They lived in a cramp, filth infested city and places like these were nothing more than a fantasy. But it felt good that his brother would be here, in this place forever more.
"I'm well," he whispered, lying on the ground. He could almost feel his brother's presence vibrating in the ground underneath him. "I am doing well now. They are treating me well, except... well, except that idiot."
Would you hit me if I said I think you like him? Declan's teasing tone seemed to whisper over the soft rustle of the grass.
Devon chuckled. "If you were alive, yes." He got up and brushed the dirt and grass off his pants. "Thank you for saving my life."
You're my brother, stupid. We help each other no matter what.
"Yeah," Devon agreed, smiling softly. "Never forget I love you."
So do I, brother dear.
It was hard stepping away from that hill when each step he took him further and further away from his brother's presence. The arms he could almost feel hugging him slowly pulled back and disappeared with the soft blowing of the wind.
The sad nostalgic smile turned into something more genuine when he saw Justin and Michael waiting for him at the car. He suppressed a chuckle when he saw the two of them pawing at each other. If there was a flat space, they would be pressed up against it or lying on it, or doing something or other to each other that wasn't suitable for the consumption of minors. Even if they were both men, they were the most loving couple he had ever seen. There was only one memory he had of someone who surpassed them and even then, he wasn't sure if it was a memory or a hazy dream. He thought his parents were just as gooey as Justin and Michael.
As he neared, he cleared his throat... three times.
"Oh..." Michael pulled away from Justin's kiss bruised lips reluctantly. "You're quick."
"Hmm," Justin leaned against, Michael, his hand disappearing somewhere Devon didn't want to know.
"I've been sitting there for almost an hour," Devon said, shaking his head. He felt nice with these two, happy. They were so in love with each other and they weren't ashamed to show it.
Justin blinked slowly, as if coming out of a trance. "Really? An hour? Wow, time sure flies."
Devon laughed, unable to help himself.
Michael looked down at his watch, one arm still firm secured around Justin, resting on his lover's arse. "Oh shit, we're late."
"Late?" Devon asked, confused as Justin snapped out of his lust induced stupor and quickly pulled the car door open, slipping inside.
"We have a meeting with Clay," Michael announced, wasting no time getting in the car as well and quickly starting up the car.
Shit, meeting with The Clay, Devon thought. This wasn't going to be good.