My dearest son,
It’s just been a while since all the Crieffs were under one roof. Since your father died, I believe. So I’m extending an invitation to you and your darling Calliope to come for the weekend up here in Bristol, at the old house. Bring a guest if you want, but do know that your ‘just in case’ match by yours truly will be there!
You remember Avery, the little elf boy that was your father’s friend’s son? Well, the little hottie is waiting patiently for your arrival this weekend, and I do hope you will come.
Martin and Calliope looked at each other as they read over the letter a second time.
“We have to go,” Calliope mused. “It’s a Crieff family reunion. You haven’t seen her since you got sick… And you haven’t been in that house since your father died.”
“But… Avery?” Martin asked. “I have… well… you know. Douglas.”
“Not really,” Calliope mused, even though she had wanted Martin and Douglas to get together for months now. Over ten of the twelve months she had known Martin, to be precise.
“Still, its nice to know I have Avery if I can’t get Douglas,” Martin replied, putting the letter down on the counter.
“If you won’t get Douglas,” Calli corrected. “You can get anyone you want but I’m not sure of you ever will.”
Martin was silent for a moment, worrying his bottom lip, “Still… the van’s broken and I don’t know where Simon or Kaitlin are…”
Calliope then got a rather frightening smirk on her face…
So that was how Douglas Richardson came with them on their short trip to Bristol. Seems skilled professionals did go to Bristol, but only because his revered Captain’s prominent Witch family lived there, or had lived their since said Captain was 13 years old.
Martin had forgotten to call in advance however, which was why he was shaking as his mother (and the young elf Avery) were spluttering at the door when Douglas followed the redhead up the steps.
Avery, as fate would have it, was an elf-child. Peter’s friends had all been either Faes or at least lived with the Faes and saw them as family. Peter and a pal of his had had children at about the same time, maybe three months apart of each other, and so when Angelina had seen her youngest son’s obvious proclivity for the male sex (although he still liked women just… not as much), she had chosen Avery Ventus as Martin’s sort of, ‘just-in-case-he-doesn’t-find-someone-for-himself’-type person. Angel had done it for Martin’s sister Kaitlin, who had a proclivity for women, and both girls had hit it off and were now living together, Martin heard. Simon was outgoing enough to find his own person, so Angelina didn’t even think to find him a match.
Avery was a golden-haired lad who was as lanky and as skinny as Martin was, though his skin was tanned and blemish-less, and his eyes were as golden as his hair. His ears tapered, and his nails were naturally oval and had stopped growing after about three millimeters. Douglas looked like a lesser Sky-God in comparison.
“Martin!” Avery said, his voice silky like moonlight over lake water.
Martin smiled warmly at him, but could feel the tension.
“Martin, you never told me you were bringing a… guest,” Angelina said, her dark hair framing her face and making her look even more beautiful than her son remembered her.
“Dad’s van broke down,” Martin replied, giving his mother a tight hug. A boy always misses his mummy the most.
Douglas shook hands with first Avery, and then Angelina (and he noticed the white cat at her feet. Her familiar, no doubt). “I gave him a ride, and Calliope roped him into asking me inside. I can leave if I’m interrupting a reunion among lovers, as well as family…”
“No!” Martin said suddenly, and blushed before adding, “It’s… fine. Avery is just an… old friend.”
Angelina looked at Calliope, who had bounded up Martin’s lithe body to his shoulder and was draping herself across his neck like a scarf. “He’s been wanting to get into Douglas’s pants for months, practically,” said the cat traitorously.
Martin squeaked at that, turning to his mother and gaping his mouth rather like a fish might. Calliope looked at him with her dark blue eyes and made a little shrugging motion with her shoulder, “It’s true…”
Martin had no words, and instead pushed pass Avery—who hadn’t heard anything the cat had said—and his mother—who had a strange glint in her eye—to the inner sanctum of the Crieff household.
And he was promptly smooshed by his older sister, who was only a year older than him rather than Simon’s five years. Kaitlin was as skinny as Martin, but better fed, and smelling of a garden. Her Path was of Plants, after all. She had darker red hair than her little brother, and had a small mouse (named Athena, Martin remembered) peeking out of her cardigan pocket, which intrigued Calliope for about a second before the cat lost interest and continued warming the back of Martin’s neck. “I missed you so much, Martin!” she said into his hair.
“Hi, Kaitlin. Is Annie here?”
“Right here, little man. Heard you were finally chosen by the Path of Communication,” said a rather raspy-sounding voice. Annie Cooper was built like an Amazon, with brown hair and green eyes, and freckles enough to put both Kaitlin and Martin to shame. Her Path was Elixers, so she was a bit like chemist. Her familiar was a raven with the name Osiris, who sat on her shoulder and was a still as a statue.
“Yeah. Been at it a year now. It’s still strange to finally be apart of the Family Legacy…”
“I bet,” Annie replied, and noticed that Martin had come with another male that wasn’t Avery. She winked at him before sticking her hand, “Annie Cooper, Kaitlin’s girlfriend-for-life.”
“Lovely to meet you. I’m guessing the long-haired redhead is Kaitlin?” Douglas asked, putting on the moves even though he had guessed this little brunette was a hardcore lesbian.
“You would be correct sir…” Annie replied.
“Simon! Robin! Get in here!” Angelina called, her voice getting loud and making anyone who wasn’t used to the tiny creature’s big voice cringe (so, just Douglas).
A redheaded boy and a dark-haired, almost African, beauty came down the steps giggling slightly as they did. Martin rolled his eyes, but gave the couple a smile as his older brother and his brother’s wife engulfed him in a group hug.
“Martin!” said Simon, giving Martin’s hair a bit of an affectionate ruffle, “A Communicator! Lucky little bugger.”
Douglas saw a bit of Martin’s brother’s famed Electricity start in Martin’s hair and hoped it was only the static kind.
“Ow!” Martin cried, “I didn’t like when you conducted electricity on my head when I was twelve and I still don’t like it, thank you very much!”
No wonder Martin had an inferiority complex and wanted to be called ‘Sir’ or ‘Captain…’
Simon’s familiar was a frightening looking hawk, who had floated down the steps and settled on his human’s shoulder. Robin was holding a little goldfinch in her hand. Her Path was Weather, and Martin had a feeling that she had cheated a little and had pushed the clouds apart to make the sun shine a little brighter this lovely Saturday afternoon.
“So, everyone here is a witch, hm? Even the spouses and partners?” Douglas asked.
“Oh, you’ll fit right in,” Angelina said, still getting over the fact that her youngest son actually found someone without her help. Well… Angel wasn’t a Clairvoyant like her mother… just a Healer. She shrugged and looked over at Avery… perhaps he should go away or something…
That didn’t really happen, much to her chagrin. She went to tell Avery he wasn’t needed but the fact that she didn’t know this Douglas Richardson so well stopped her. Maybe Douglas didn’t want her youngest son back (which would be stupid, of course) and Avery was actually needed in this case?
“You should have seen him the last time Martin was sick. He wouldn’t leave until he was sure his Captain was fine and that you’d be down with medicines blessed by you, made from plants cultivated by Kaitlin and those Elixers made by Annie,” Calliope said as she watched Avery flirt with her human. Martin wasn’t giving in, and Douglas was watching the youngest Crieff like Simon’s hawk familiar might.
Angelina wasn’t quite convinced as she watched her son talk easily with his brother and sister and their partners.
Douglas was learning a lot from them about young Martin Crieff. “He was convinced he was adopted when he went off to Oxford,” Simon said, “The Path of Electricity had come to Zeus here,” the hawk, “when I was about twelve, and Athena came to Kaitlin with her Path of Plants when she was fourteen. Martin was convinced his familiar would come in between those years for him and when she never came he… went off to play Normie.”
“Normie?” Douglas asked.
“That’s what we called normal people. Like in Harry Potter, how there are Muggles and Witches and Wizards?” Robin asked. She grinned when both boys looked at her, “I’ve been a Crieff for ten years now. I know their ways.”
“That you do, my love,” Simon said, giving her a soft smile. Douglas decided to leave their company at that point.
Martin finally found his mother, as a pair of girls named Kaitlin and Annie, who were saving Martin from the elf’s company by being loud and obnoxious, was accosting Avery.
“As much as I appreciate him being here ‘just in case,’ Mummy, I have to tell you that… there’s been some progress with Douglas and…” Martin was blushing and Calliope was giving the shorter woman (so that’s where the Crieffs got their height… or how Martin and Kaitlin got their height, at least. Simon was massive) a bit of an ‘I-told-you-so’ smirk from her spot in Martin’s arms.
Angelina nodded. Martin had told her so himself. As soon as there was a lull from the girls she asked that Avery leave. “Looks like your not needed after all, love. So sorry if I got your hopes up.”
Avery shook his head. Elves were rather amiable and low-maintenance that way. “A union with a Crieff would have been delightful, I must admit,” he began, “But I can feel Douglas’s eyes on me every time I approach your youngest, and Martin just doesn’t seem enamored with the idea of me being his life partner.”
Douglas seemed to deflate happily when Avery left to go back to his forest cabin in the outskirts of town, and Martin relaxed a bit more.
Dinner was served in the large dining room.
Dinner was fairly boisterous, but Douglas enjoyed getting to know Kaitlin and Annie a bit better. After the food Simon was the one to calm everyone down. Seemed he had some good news, which Kaitlin catcalled at before Annie said, “Us too!”
The two older Crieff siblings looked to Martin, who had no news at all at this point.
“Seems the good things won’t come in threes this time, Mum,” Simon replied before he slipped an arm around his wife’s waist. “We’re having a child!”
Angelina put her hand over her mouth and stood up to hug her son and daughter-in-law, “Took you long enough to produce some grandbabies for your old mum,” she stage-hissed. The table roared with laughter before all eyes went to Annie and Kaitlin.
Kaitlin smiled at her girlfriend-for-life and said, “Annie and I are getting a civil partnership in London in a few months. We’d like for most of you to be there, if you can,” she turned to her family, and Mummy Crieff was up once more and hugging her daughter and her soon-to-be-daughter-in-law.
Calliope, who sat on the table with the other familiars, looked back at her human and gave a little smirk, “Too bad the good news didn’t come in threes. You could have announced your undying love to Douglas right here and now and had something to add to the atmosphere.”
Martin flicked her softly behind the ear, “It’s not undying and its not love. Not yet, and possibly not ever…” Everyone was too boisterous to hear him say that, but Angelina’s familiar, Lear, was listening closely to the youngest Crieff and his familiar.
“Oh, hang that, Martin Crieff,” Calliope said, her smirk turning into a bit of a glare. “According to human psychology, your proximity to him will only make your fondness for the old chap to grow stronger. Give it time.”
Martin couldn’t answer the cat as the champagne and glasses were being passed around (and apple juice for those who didn’t or couldn’t drink alcohol) and toasts were being made. One for Simon and Robin’s and their future child, one for Kaitlin and Annie and their future nuptials, and one for Martin and his finally coming into the Crieff Family Legacy.
Once the celebrations were over, and the household was calming down, Douglas remembered that he hadn’t planned on staying the night. Everyone else was going up the stairs to their old rooms to get some sleep before going back to their lives in the morning, and even Martin was making his way up the stairs with his duffle bag.
“Do stay the night, Douglas,” said Mrs. Crieff with a smile.
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly,” Douglas replied politely, inching for the door.
“I think you could,” Angel replied, “Martin could sleep on the floor if it makes you uncomfortable to sleep in the same bed with him.”
“It’s not that—“ Douglas started, but Angel pushed him toward the foot of the stairs.
“You didn’t drink, I know. But Martin will need a ride tomorrow, and I’m sure he’d prefer to have you take him home…”
Douglas was reminded that he drove Martin here, and he might as well take him back, so he nodded and went up the stairs.
The hallway had four bedrooms lined up side-by-side, two on each side. Angelina’s was at the end on the left, with the door still open. The other three were closed. Kaitlin’s was the room nearest the top of the stairs on the right, with her name in green fake ivy. Simon’s room was next door, with his name on the door in a tubing that could conduct electricity (Angel had explained the electricity only went through the tubes when Simon was in the room the next morning when Douglas asked). Cute.
Douglas looked over at the other side next to Angelina’s room (her name wasn’t on the door) and saw that Martin’s door had his name on it, but it was the name of an aeroplane. Right, Martin’s siblings had found out about their Paths much faster than poor Martin had. Aeroplanes were all that Martin had left when he was teenager and still living with his mum.
The self-proclaimed Sky-God knocked on Martin’s door and it clicked open softly. Martin looked small and scared when he was alone, peeking through the door. “Oh, Douglas. Come to say goodbye, then?”
Douglas shook his head, “Your mother talked me into staying the night.”
Martin blinked, but opened the door and let him in, “Guess I’ll take the floor, then,” he said as Douglas looked around.
The walls in Kaitlin and Simon’s room might have been decorated to fit the Path that had chosen them (it only made sense), but Martin’s room was not. Instead it was as bad as his attic room in Fitton. It was bigger, certainly, than that attic room, but the walls were devoid of posters, and the bed was practically the only thing in the room besides a small desk with even fewer books lining the back of it. The desk lamp was on, but it had gathered dust for a while. Angelina must have kept her children’s rooms in pristine condition even when her children had lives elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t have any pajamas to give you…” Martin said, then remembered something as he crossed to the small closet, “No, wait. Simon gave me some of his sweatpants when he heard I didn’t have anything for gym. They were too big, so I hid them—ah! Here they are.” Martin produced a large pair of drawstring grey lounge-pants. They looked like they would be much too big for Martin, but big enough for his brother, and certainly big enough for Douglas.
Once they were both dressed for bed (they did so not facing one another), Martin made to drag one of the extra comforters to the floor while grabbing his familiar when Douglas put his hand on the blanket to stop him. “No. Just get into bed, Martin. We’ve slept in one bed together before back in LA, remember? We had no hope to afford two rooms unless they were singles?”
Martin blushed as he remembered. That was way before Martin had met Calliope, and so, long before he realized he had… feelings… for his first officer.
“Oh… all right then,” Martin managed to get out.
“I can sleep between you guys if you like,” Calli mewed from under the covers.
Douglas blinked and pulled the blankets back. Calliope gave the older gentleman a little smile before she looked up at her human for an answer.
“Oh, whatever you like, Calli,” Martin replied, his voice breaking a little.
Douglas continued to wait for instructions.
“Oh,” Martin said exasperatedly, and climbed into the bed on his side, “Calliope will sleep between us to make things a bit more comfortable. This bed is a twin, as opposed to that king we slept on back in LA.”
Douglas looked over the bed before he watched Martin get comfortable on his side of it. It was indeed a bit smaller, but Martin was skinny enough not to take up too much room on it, and Douglas was a pro at staying on his side of the bed. So he climbed in, got comfortable, and went still, listening only to Martin’s breathing and the slight purr that emanated at Douglas’s back. He could feel Calliope’s small body rise and fall right near the mid-section of his spine. She was rather enjoying this dilemma, the cheeky little bugger.