Jericho shifted as Tobias slid under the covers, but his eyes stayed closed, the curtain of dark lashes resting against his cheeks. The witch smelled of vetiver and wet soil, mint, sage and basil, of sunlight and tomato leaves. It mixed with the woodsey smoke of his pipe tobacco, like earth and fire, cutting into the sharp salt water scent of of Toby, the ozone smell that still clung to his wind chilled skin.
"And just where have you been, naughty spirit?" Jericho's voice was still rough with sleep as he ran the heel of his palm down his face.
"Out." He pressed his nose into the crook of Jericho's neck and breathed deeply, let his breath out with a happy huff.
"Just out?" Jerry asked. "Are you keeping secrets again?"
Tobias gave a small snort, fond and condescending all at once. "Close your eyes and what do you see?" Jericho pulled back and sat up against the pillows just enough to glare, making Toby roll his eyes. "Do you want to learn where your familiar goes or not? Honestly you are the most reluctant witch I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with."
"Fine. But I'd prefer it if you didn't go wandering about on your own.. It's dangerous."
"Hmm." Toby leaned up and kissed the sharp angle of his cheekbone, drew his tongue over the many earrings that decorated Jericho's left ear, feeling him shiver against him. "Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier, over park, over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander everywhere, swifter than the moone's sphere..."
"Oh stop it."
"It's not that far from the truth, my cantankerous sweet. Let this good fellow help you. If you would look as much as you grumble you would know me better. Now close your eyes, stubborn witch, mine. Breath deep and clear your mind. The bond between us is always there, you just have to seek it." He ghosted his fingers down the sides of Jericho's face. Oh how he loved him like this, his eyes shut and lips parted, trusting and open.
"Alright, now what?"
"Think of me." Tobias' mouth found Jericho's ear again, pressing a kiss there as he stretched on top of him as languid and feline, lithe little body sliding against the silk of Jericho's pajamas.
There was objection in his tone but he cut him off. "Concentrate, think of my bones."
"You are making that quite difficult at the moment."
Tobias snorted again. "You do have a fine talent for distracting me from your lessons. I could make love to you if you like." He said it in the blunt way spirits often spoke, head tilted in eager curiosity. "Your body is warm and sweet beneath my hands and I do so want to please you." He found the stiff peaks of of Jerichio's nipples and rubbed them through the silk top, arched his back like a cat to lean down and wet the fabric with his tongue, biting down and sucking at the gold ring that pierced the flesh.
Jericho's eyes flashed open, his body going stiff as he gasped. "No. Stop."
Tobias stopped, flopping back over to his side of the bed with a heavy sigh. He looked up at the delicate strings of tiny fairy lights that hung above them, filling the room with a soft and dreamy glow. He loved this room with its dark tapestry covered walls and bed piled high with pillows, the scent of incense clinging to the fabrics. As of late he'd made a habit of napping in here every afternoon as a small black cat balled at the foot of the bed in a patch of sunlight and when Jericho retired for the evening Tobias joined him to curl up close at his side. "No because you don't want me or no because you have decided it is the wrong thing for you to do?"
Jericho sighed softly, reaching out to stroke Tobias' dark mop of hair, scratching lightly at his scalp in the way that all but made him purr. "Toby, my Toby" he said softly. "Come here." Tobias slid closer across the blankets until his chest was pressed to Jericho's side. "Be patient with me, sweetheart." The kiss that Jericho gave him was slow and gentle, but good, filling him with affection and gratitude in a way no hard rut ever had.
Tobias wrapped his arms around Jericho's neck and smiled against his lips. "Ever am I. My patience for you knows no bounds though you test it often enough."
He swatted at him. "Brat. You know as well as I do that we play a dangerous game. You are but a year freed from the hands of a demon and I was ill prepared to take on a familiar. I do not want to fail you a second time by being distracted from my purpose. Sex is complicated already, but more importantly I do think it unfair to you. It's hardly an equal courtship when one of us slips up and occasionally calls the other master."
Tobias rolled his eyes. "You're an idiot."
"Toby, I want to keep you safe, us safe. I want to learn how to be your friend, something I haven't been very successful at in the past. I want to make things right with you and that is going to take some time."
Tobias sighed. Why did Jericho have to try to be so obnoxiously good all the time? Didn't he see that Tobias had been bound to him since the night he'd been captured, frightened and starving in the alleyway? Now with the new bond, their magic mixed together more everyday, breath and heartbeat and bone calling out to the other when they were apart. How was laying together not the most inevitable thing in the world? A startling thought entered Toby's mind, distracting him from Jericho's idle caress. "Wait, have you never loved a man before? Is it my physical form that repels you?"
To his surprise Jericho flushed, clearing his throat and shaking his head. "No, it's not that." He ran hands through his hair. "For fuck sake Toby. I just woke up. Take pity on me and go put the kettle on would you?"
"Yes master," Toby mocked, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and fleeing the room before Jericho could retaliate.
"So where were you so early this morning anyway?" Jericho was spreading homemade basil strawberry jam on a piece of honey wheat toast. He handed the plate to Toby who settled across from him at their tiny kitchen table. Toby chewed thoughtfully. "I was up in the Presidio. It's the solstice today."
"As I'm well aware."
Tobias rolled his eyes and showed his teeth. "Don't be snotty. I wanted to feel the dawn on my skin, the power humming in a natural and woody place."
Jericho chuckled and shook his head. "Natural by some 19th century landscape architect's standard in any case."
"I like talking with the oak trees, thank you very much." Tobias refilled both their teacups, the ornate Turkish ones from Jericho's favorite set. That was one of the things he loved about his witch, the simple elegance with which he lived his everyday life. "I did come across something strange, though," he added.
"I thought it so. Up over one of the hills there's all these lupine flowers and then this little clearing of cut eucalyptus."
"It's the time of year for lupine, I believe. We should collect some to dry." Jericho sipped at his tea.
"Well that's not the strange part. It's that someone's bound a soul into one of the stumps."
His eyes went wide and he set down his cup with a loud clank. "What?!"
Toby shrugged casually. "I know. I told you it was strange."
"Why didn't you say anything before?" Jericho looked irritated.
Toby snorted. "It's not like you or I did it, Jer. For all we know it was a well deserved imprisonment and I should simply go back and double check the binding."
"And if it's not?"
He sighed, shaking his head, muttering. "People used to mind their own business in this city. Although, I suppose that's all changed now. Might I suggest I go speak to the Mayor about the matter then? His lot are the nosy ones and he has resources these days."
"Please see that you do," he paused, "and don't call him that. It's rude."
Toby shrugged. "Consider it done, my witch. Do you need help with anything in the shop before I go?"
"No. I would prefer this matter addressed as quickly as possible."
"Alright." He rose, taking one more gulp of tea before leaning over to kiss Jericho's cheek. "I shall go with all due haste and return to you with what news I can, my dear."
Jericho treated him to a small smile, brushing a hand over the top of his head. "Thank you. Do try to stay out of trouble."
"If there is trouble to be had, I blame the werewolf." And with that parting shot he was gone.
The sign painted above the door said "For the Record," in neat block letters and Tobias suppressed a smile at the double entendre as he entered. It was well known among the supernatural set that Ajax, the "Mayor of San Francisco," ran his law practice out of the back and on the few occasions he's glimpsed it, it appeared that he and Eli kept a comfortable little flat on the second floor.
"What the hell do you want?" Eli scowled from behind the counter of the record store that filled the storefront of their building, setting down the crate he'd been sorting in order to better loom. His skin tight t-shirt left very little of his bulk to the imagination.
Tobias was unassuming in an oversized green hoodie and jeans, hands shoved casually in his pockets. "Good afternoon." His eyes darted around the room, before finally deciding they were indeed alone. "How's business?"
"Can't complain." His hard stare didn't waver in the least as he spoke.
"Good, good. It's nice to see the inventory filling in." He gave a discerning nod as the richly colored walls. "I like what you've done with the display cases. I've been thinking about making some changes to Jerry's shop myself..."
"If it's not too much trouble, maybe you could get to your fucking point?"
Tobias gave a toothy grin. He knew Eli was still wary of him, but most of the time he found his gruffness amusing. He meant this man's witch no harm, more than happily occupied with his own domestic endeavors. "Is Ajax in his office?"
"Depends." That got Eli a raised eyebrow.
"Does it really, wolf? On what exactly?"
Eli's eyes narrowed. "You don't have an appointment."
"It is rather impressive how growly you can be. Jerry asked me to consult with the May.." He stopped himself. "With Mr. Ioannis about something."
"About what?" he demanded, making Tobias roll his eyes.
"Oh the devil take you, what do you think it's about Elijah?" He threw up his hands. "Something supernatural, unexpected and possible ominous. Do you even have to ask anymore?"
Eli reached into his back pocket and pulled out his keys, the impressive bundle jangling together. "Let me lock up and I'll go with you."
He kept his expression neutral. "Naturally."
Ajax's office was a large, windowless affair located behind the record store, filled with well made wooden furniture and glowing softly with witch light. The poured concrete floor had been softened by a series of unusual throw rugs, making strange multi colored patterns, their warding properties tickling Tobias nose as he stepped onto one. It must have cost a fortune, he thought idly.
"Hey Jack, look what the cat dragged in."
Tobias shot Eli a dirty look before turning to greet one of the most powerful mages on the west coast. "Hello Ajax. Happy solstice and congratulations on the treaty between the Van Helsings and the Council of Elders. Jerry tells me it's a thing of juridical beauty."
Ajax looked up, tucking the paper he'd been reading into a file. He was dressed in a fashionably cut suit jacket, but no tie, the collar of his button up loose. "Happy solstice," he returned amenably. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Toby?"
"Well, I saw something rather unusual this morning and to put it simply, I think I may have a case for you."
A/N: a little story for Plumblossom. I'm guessing it's going to be in about 3 parts. Also if you haven't seen I have a Patreon account for updates on some other fic. The link is on my author page.