Days that start out fairly normal can still turn into total chaos and disaster by the afternoon. Days that start out hectic, on the other hand, don't have much chances of ending up as quiet evenings by the fireplace - at least in my rather vast experience of hectic days ruled by total chaos and disaster.
So when the day started with loud banging on my apartment door I sighed deeply and prepared myself for an onslaught of trouble. The pounding was accompanied by furious shouts. I ran a quick checklist of whom I might have pissed off recently and came up with a surprisingly short list.
"I know you're there! Get out, you home wrecker! Is she there right now? Cindy! Get out, you bastard, so we can talk like men!"
Now that was hardly an incentive for any normal person. The debate is still on about my normality, but I think I'm pretty middle of the scale.
"Get out or I'll break the door!"
Hah, I thought, good luck with that. My wards hadn't gone off, so whoever was making the ruckus outside was most likely a plain vanilla human, but that didn't mean I shouldn't be vigilant anyway. In my line of work, you only get to make some mistakes once. I cautiously extended my wizard senses, trying to get a feel of what was out there. Yep, plain human, and alone, but that didn't mean he couldn't have been holding an assault rifle.
Thud, thud, thump, then muttered curses and muted grunts of pain. Hah. My trusty steel door, protecting me from fairies, supernatural nasties and brutish humans since 2000-something.
Thomas emerged from the bathroom, still dripping from the shower, with the tiniest of my towels casually slung around his hips. Despite the cold water and the chill of my apartment, he wasn't shivering one little bit. Life isn't fair.
"What's the noise, Harry?" Thomas drawled. "Need any help?"
"Nah, I'll handle it. Probably some drunk madman."
Thomas went to the other room, hopefully to get dressed, and I slouched to the door.
"Who dares disturb my sleep?" I thundered in my best "grumpy wizard" voice, while gathering my will and focusing it on my shield bracelet.
Then I opened the door with a sudden motion, taking care to stand outside the range of a potential gun aimed at me.
There was no gun, just a thirty-something guy, dressed casually in dark jeans and a t-shirt with the logo of some university or other. He was about as tall as Thomas, which meant he had to look up at me, but he had broad shoulders, and the t-shirt wasn't bulged by any beer belly. He looked me up and down, and the rage in his expression shifted a little, giving way to a sort of unflattering bafflement.
Granted, the Blue Beetle pajama I was wearing didn't really enforce the effect of my booming voice. (Shut up, it was a gift from Thomas. I don't even want to know where he found superhero pajamas so big.)
The guy's anger recovered quickly, though, and he growled, assuming a fighting stance with his feet apart and the fists at his side.
"Are you the infamous bastard who's been sleeping with my wife?"
I had a nice and long answer, but instead I just said: "No."
The guy blinked.
"If that was all, it wasn't nice seeing you, good-bye!" I said and prepared to shut the door.
"Not so quickly!" he barked and got one foot in the door. "I know she's been here, I have reliable witnesses!"
Ah, I thought. Thomas. Boink enough women, and sooner or later one is going to turn out to be someone's wife. Sigh. I put on my game face - well, one of them.
"Mister," I said, feigning acute indignation, "you don't know what you're saying. A woman, here?"
I turned and shouted after Thomas in my sweetest, highest pitched voice. "Come here right now, darling, there's a handsome man at the door who wants to talk to us!"
I saw a faint flicker of uncertainty upon Handsome's face. Hah, I thought, gotcha.
Thomas appeared, and it became apparent that he hadn't gotten too far in the process of getting dressed - he wore boxers and a black leather jacket. Instead of looking like he'd hastily thrown on some clothes, he was looking like some kind of model advertising for a new perfume. Only the photographer was missing.
"Hey Harry, what's up?" he said in a low, playful voice. "I wasn't expecting guests! Ooh, is he..." and here Thomas lowered his voice even more, and made it all husky and innuendo-laden, "the surprise?"
"Thomas!" I chided in the voice I used to reserve for Mister when I still had a hope of inflicting some kind of education on him. "Am I not enough for you? The gentleman here present says that a woman," I emphasized the word, "has been seen entering this house!"
"A woman?" wondered Thomas, his face making a perfect picture of astonishment. "What would a woman be looking for here?" he inquired of the guy. "Harry," he said, snaking an arm around my waist, "you haven't been cheating on me, have you?"
"Thomas!" I shouted in dismay. "Ever since we moved in together I've never been with anyone!"
Which was sadly all too true.
"It's just, the gentleman was so certain of himself, I thought..."
"How could you think that, Harry, for even a minute?"
Thomas's pout was so genuine, I almost felt bad for him. Arturo Genosa was right, he'd have been excellent as an actor.
"Well, mister?" I turned to our gobsmacked visitor, who hadn't had the chance to get a word in edgewise since we started our little charade. The huff and puff he'd been carrying had all but deserted him, leaving the field wide open to bafflement and apprehension. "Are you happy, now that you've almost ruined our relationship? We've had our ups and downs, you know, but we've left jealousy behind! And now you come here to..." I didn't get to say more, because apparently Thomas decided words and attitude weren't enough, and it was time to deal the fatal blow.
"Hush now, dear," he told me, pulling me closer with the hand that was still glued to my waist. He put the other hand on the back of my head, and pulled me in for a kiss. I should have been surprised, heck, I was surprised, but instead of jumping back in reflex I leaned in - I'm taller, you see, so I'd have to lean down in order for it to look natural; it must have been the part of my brain that was actively involved in the pretense, stepping in and telling me to go along with it, for pretense's sake. Yep, it was that and nothing more, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Thomas's lips were cold, but not unpleasantly so, and they were just as soft and sweet as I'd imagined - uh, as I'd imagined a Raith succubus' lips might be, I mean. I'd never imagined what Thomas's lips might feel like, because Thomas is an incubus, which means a guy, and wasn't that supposedly a bad idea for some reason? But his cheeks were smooth, and his hair felt good between my fingers, and the gentle bite at my lower lip sent hot heat in places I'd almost forgotten I had.
I think it must have been very convincing. I think the poor cuckolded guy must have left at some point. I don't know. How do you want a guy to keep track of so many things at once? All I know is that at some point I was suddenly shoved aside, and I heard Thomas yelping "Ow!"
"What? What's wrong?"
My shield went off, faint glimmering surface directed at nothing in particular, while I tried to shake a haze of lust and track the cause of Thomas's distress.
Thomas was holding a hand to his mouth, and scowling ferociously at me.
"Serves you right," I said. "Did you just try to eat me?"
"No!" he sputtered. There were angry blistering marks around his mouth. "Not at the beginning. It was just to get that guy to freak out and leave." Thomas looked down. "I... sort of lost track. Sorry," he mumbled.
I magnanimously decided to let it go for now. The burns were punishment enough. It wasn't that I didn't want to discuss the incident, you understand, or that I didn't want to think about my reaction too deeply. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The evening ended up as a quiet talk by the fireplace after all, despite the rocky start. No supernatural wars were started, no epic battles were fought. Just two brothers chatting about stuff.
Oh, and a little voice in the back of my head, whispering "what if...?"