The Royal Families of Terran 5
Auctions are boring. Halfway through Bob has to slam his hand down on Tom’s knee to keep its bouncing from annoying him into killing the other man.
If he’d had a choice he would have brought someone else, but the auction had been a surprise and Bob had only gotten wind of it because he had a few remaining contacts that didn’t think that just because he was working for the Royal families of Terran 5 that he was a traitor.
He’d been picking Tom up to return to Terran 5 when the auction release came down and it wouldn’t even have hit any of his triggers if not for the markings on one of the crates in the release.
That crate had started out on Terran 5, had left the planet the same day that their crown prince had vanished and while some still thought that George Ryan Ross III had simply decided that he didn’t want to rule a planet that was years shy of a civil war, others knew that the prince wouldn’t simply vanish.
Besides the fact that he’d been barely sixteen years when he’d disappeared, the fact that his guard had vanished as well, only to show up week’s later dead in the Ooran Sea.
The boy had been taken, against his will, and Bob had been hired to find him.
Bob would find him, he’d never failed a mission and he only hoped as the years went by and the sightings and clues dwindled that they would find the boy alive.
The crate was the last item in the auction. Bob held his auction tablet in his hand and he’d already called up the crates information, had got as close a look as he could during the pre-auction period when they were allotted the time to view the merchandise.
No touching though, if Bob could have touched it he probably could have decided if they were wasting their time.
He was a low level empath but it was his secondary talent that drew his clients to him, it allowed him to access information on anyone that had touched an item previously. If the prince had been in any way in contact with the crate he would be able to determine it within seconds.
The no touching law was enforced because of people like him with talents like his and that meant that Bob was forced to buy the crate simply to determine if it was a waste of his time.
At least he wasn’t paying for it, and he’d have something physical to hand over with the receipts for reimbursement if it ended up being another false lead.
“I’m bored,” Tom muttered, he’d crossed his arms over his chest and was playing with the ring through his lip.
He’d been a slave once, the lip ring had once been a torture tool used by his last owner, Bob was never sure why he hadn’t just removed it once he was free. His last owner had been one of Bob’s last solid leads into the prince’s disappearance.
The guy had committed suicide, activating a caplet in a back tooth before Bob could pry it out of his mouth.
He hadn’t even got the information that he’d wanted, and nothing in the house had yielded any further information. That lead had turned cold faster than the guys’ body and he’d ended up with a slave that didn’t seem to understand that just because Bob had been there when his owner had died, that didn’t mean that Bob was now his new owner.
Bob didn’t do slaves. Didn’t own them, didn’t work with them, tried not to interact with them because you could never tell if they were telling you what you wanted to hear because they wanted to tell you the truth because it was the truth or because it was whatever their owner at the time had shoved into their heads so it could be found.
“Two more lots,” Bob said. He keyed his tablet awake, punched in the lot number for the crate. In the old days there’d be an auctioneer, rattling off the lots information, now it was all computerized, the screen at the front of the room highlighting all the pertinent information that the auction house wanted you to know.
It would show only the high bid and you only got to bid once, Bob hadn’t had a solid lead in going on two months, he keyed as high as he thought it would go, then added another 20% on top just in case.
Tom slouched in his chair and glared at the front of the room.
“This could be a completely worthless piece of crap,” he said, Bob snorted his agreement. But at least it wasn’t him footing the bill for the worthless piece of crap, and if he’d bypassed it, decided it wasn’t worth his time, then that would have been the worthless piece of crap that would have led them directly to their prince.
It was the small things really.
Bob waited, he didn’t want to touch the crate in the auction house, lest someone realize that they maybe had just undersold something that was worth a significant amount more than what he’d paid.
Tom had already booked them passage on a ship by the time that Bob finished with the paperwork, Bob didn’t really pay attention to the details, he just wanted to touch the fucking crate and be done with it.
The crew loaded it, a hyper young man that had bounced out to meet them, offered to take their bags, introduced himself as Brendon and then bounced back off again to get a loader to bring the crate on board.
His partner had a scowl on his face and rolled his eyes frequently, Bob winced as the kid backed into the wall before managing to swing the loader around.
Wasn’t his ship.
“Brendon, watch where you’re going with that,” the captain yelled and the voice was familiar, Bob kept his head down.
Pete Wentz was crazy and was one of those that thought he’d sold out when he went to work for the royal families. None of them seemed to realize that his job, that his sole purpose was to find one missing kid that might stop a war that was brewing.
“I’m Spencer,” the scowling young man said, “I can show you to your quarters while we get everything stowed.”
Bob glanced back at the crate and hefted his bag, better to do the check when there weren’t so many eyes around anyway.
He couldn’t hide on the ship, that was part of the problem, and Pete had a ships manifest, had a list of all the new passengers. If Bob had known that Pete was the captain of the vessel he would have had Tom find a different ship, any other ship.
One that didn’t have memories attached to it.
As it was they were trapped on the ship and Bob was human, it was a nine day journey back to Terran 5, he had to eat.
Pete didn’t say anything when he slid into his seat, he didn’t have to, the expression on his face said it all.
“The kids’ dead, I can’t believe you all are still looking for him,” Pete said.
Bob rolled his eyes, across from him Joe kept his head down, eyes averted; if he’d looked up at him, acknowledged him in any way Bob would have told him that it was a wasted effort. He’d given up on Joe years ago, when Joe wouldn’t come with him. It was purely spite that had Pete placing him directly across from Joe.
Whether to prove a point to Bob or to prove a point to Joe he wasn’t sure.
He was alone in the cargo bay; Tom had disappeared back to their rooms after dinner and Bob just wanted to get it over with. He yanked his gloves off with strictly more force then was needed and glared at the container.
If it hadn’t been for the container they would have been off of Foren Outpost a week prior, they wouldn’t have needed to book passage on a ship filled with people that he’d once called friends, with someone that was once more than that.
“You shouldn’t be down here alone,” he heard Joe say. His voice was soft. Bob paid it no mind as he shoved his gloves into a cargo pocket.
He reached forward slowly, laid careful hands on the crate and concentrated.
He could feel Joe in the back of his mind, settling in once more and he carefully blocked him, Joe had made his choice and it hadn’t been him and that was fine, he sent out a tendril towards the crate, then sighed.
“The boy is dead you know,” Joe said. “It’s been five years; if he was still alive don’t you think there would have been a sighting or something by now.”
Bob yanked his gloves out of his pocket, slid his hands back within them.
When he turned Joe was sitting halfway up the steps staring at him. He was older, four years older than the last time Bob had seen him. His hair was longer, his face thinned out. His eyes were the same and the desire to take him back to the rooms that they’d shared before Bob had left was the same.
“He’s alive, somewhere he’s alive and waiting to be found,” Bob said. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and let himself look for a minute. If he wasn’t going to touch, at the very least he could look.
“How can you be so sure?” Joe asked.
“The same way that even though I don’t see you every day, haven’t talked to you in years,” Bob touched a hand to the top of Joe’s head, waited for Joe to look up at him. “I still know that you’re okay, that you’re alive.”
That you might be waiting for me when I’m done.
Michael Way insisted that wherever the prince was, at the very least he was alive, Bob held to that. Once Mikey gave up insisting, they might as well give up looking.
“Something going on with you and Bryar?” Andy asked.
Joe snorted, shook his head. Didn’t look at his partner because if he looked Andy would be able to tell that he was both telling the truth and not telling the whole truth.
Bob had taken to eating and disappearing, his little shadow vanishing right behind him.
The shadow was a former slave, they all could tell that. How he’d ended up with Bob was, he was sure, a fascinating story. If either one of them would have answered the questions that it would take to get it out of them.
“You know Pete would let you go with him, he might talk big, but he really just wants everyone to be happy,” Andy said.
“I’m not leaving the ship,” Joe said, he shoved a lock into place viciously. Andy frowned at him and Joe ignored him.
“I’m not lying,” Joe insisted, “this is my home, I’m not leaving the ship.”
Andy shook his head at him and leaned against the wall, wiped the sweat of his forehead with the back of his hand.
“Are we done yet?” he asked.
“Two more then we’re done,” Andy said. He tilted his head to the side and stopped in the act of pushing himself away from the wall.
“Do you hear that?”
Joe stilled, ears straining and he was about to say something, to call Andy insane and make a joke when he heard it. The faint beep, beep, beep.
It was high pitched, familiar.
“We don’t have any cryo chambers on board… do we?” Andy asked. He stepped forward, eyes scanning the crates left out in the cargo hold in front of them.
Joe did as well and they chose opposite circuits around the cargo hold.
“No, after the one that malfunctioned Pete’s been real careful about letting any on board,” they’d had one explode months early, the chambers could be temperamental, Brendon had just tapped it with the forks of the lift and it had thrown him clear across the cargo bay. The only reason he was even alive was because Doc had been lending a hand that day.
It was coming from Bob’s crate, the one that he’d touched days earlier, the one that had yielded no clues as to his missing Prince’s whereabouts.
“Get Bob,” Joe said quietly. He touched his hands to the side of the crate.
Andy nodded and ran.
The cargo bay was full when he got there, Tom trailing after him, Bob running alongside Andy.
He could hear it as he took the steps two at a time. The sound of a cryo chamber in error mode.
“I thought you said you didn’t get anything from the crate,” Tom said. He was panting behind him.
“I didn’t,” Bob said. He looked at Pete as he grabbed a bar, then turned to start peeling the wood slats up and away.
“Alright guys, let’s get it open,” Pete yelled, it took minutes for them to dismantle the crate. Bob huffed a laugh as they revealed the cryo chamber inside.
The crate would have had to have been wiped after it had been sealed, that was the only way that he wouldn’t have been able to get anything from it. Which meant that no matter what was said, someone on Terran 5 had been involved a lot more than anyone was willing to admit.
“Brendon go get doc,” Pete ordered. Bob pulled his gloves off shoving them into his back pocket as he knelt by the control panel; he took a deep breath and erected shields as thick and tall as he could make them. He winced anyway when he touched the button to get the keyboard to fold out.
“He fought,” he said, Tom leaned over his shoulder, he had Bob’s data pad out, if he looked over he would probably see Tom calling up the auction information.
“No one did a scan of the crate, took it’s markings at face value and logged it as consumer goods,” Tom said, he sounded disgusted. Whether with the auction house or with them for not digging further, for not opening the crate to see what was inside.
He could see the Prince in his mind, even with his shields up, screaming and fighting. He’d been sixteen when he was taken, when he was loaded inside the chamber.
“You think he’s still inside?” Pete asked.
“It’s in error mode,” Tom said, he tapped on the data pad, “it wouldn’t be in error mode if someone wasn’t inside it.”
“It’s locked down,” Bob said. His fingers hovered over the keyboard. He had four tries before the system just shut down; of course error mode would have it shutting down in ten minutes anyway.
Either way they had ten minutes to get it open or it would never be opened.
“Patrick,” Pete waved his pilot forward and Bob shifted out of the way, giving Patrick room to plug in his own data pad. His fingers flew over the keys; the rhythm was both familiar and soothing in a way.
“What do we have?” Jon Walker appeared, taking the stairs two at a time, Brendon right behind him. He had his bag in hand and Brendon was carrying another.
“Don’t know yet,” Pete said. “Patrick should have it open in a minute or so.”
“When it opens don’t touch him,” Bob said.
“Whoever’s in there could be hurt, require…”
“He probably will, but he’ll also be disoriented, I’ll need to get him calm, get his shields back in place, get him centered before anyone else touches him.”
“Got it,” Patrick said unplugging his data pad and shifting out of the way. The top slid partly away and Bob stood, pushing it the rest of the way.
Curled up in an impossibly tight ball, bruises dotting the skin that Bob could see, blood still on his face, was his Prince.
He took a minute, then reached in with one hand, touched cool skin.
He’d fought like a wild thing, screamed and screamed for help that didn’t come.
The two of them had been far enough along in their bonding that Mikey should have heard something.
They would have had to have had a blocker with them, someone Terran born, because Mikey hadn’t heard any screams. Hadn’t even known anything was wrong until Ryan didn’t show up at their meeting place the following morning.
“Doc,” Bob said and Jon moved quickly.
He already had a needle gun in his hand and he pressed it gently to the underside of Ryan’s arm, then stepped back just as quickly.
Bob kept his hand where it was and tried to project soothing, calm thoughts. It was hard when all he could see in his head was the Prince screaming and yelling, fighting the hands that held him back as his bodyguard was forced to his knees and killed right in front of him.
It didn’t matter what he was trying to project anyway, Ryan’s eyes snapped open and they were wide and filled with terror, trapped in the instant when he’d been shoved into the chamber still screaming, never begging though, just screaming and fighting for all he was worth.
He was still just a kid, just a sixteen year old kid that had been on his way back from a clandestine meeting with the boy he’d been promised to since he was barely five.
The world had moved on without him and Bob wondered if that was the point. That whoever had taken him had hoped that the Way’s would make the most of their control of the Republic Troops and declare war, attack the Royal family and their supporters when the Prince came up missing.
They had underestimated the strength of the bond between the two boys, it might not have started out as a love match, might have started out as a way to keep a planet from going to war, but Ryan and Mikey had been bound and determined that they were not going to end up like their parents.
At each other’s throats and miserable.
Ryan screamed, whatever he was seeing it wasn’t the cargo hold, it wasn’t the faces of people that would not harm him.
He sat up and tried to move back, when the container walls blocked him and hands didn’t stop him he went up and over the edge, scurrying back to the walls on shaky legs that looked like they were just barely holding his weight and one arm.
Bob noted that he was keeping the other, his left, close to his body, as soon as they got him calmed down that would be the first thing that he had Jon take a look at.
Pete started forward and Bob snapped a, “Pete, no.”
Ryan’s eyes flew from face to face and Bob knew that he was looking for a familiar one, a friendly one.
“Your highness,” he said, he kept his voice low, even. He held his hands out in front of him to show he had no weapons, and he bowed slightly at the waist because this was his Prince. He didn’t move forward, just waited for Ryan to look at him, to acknowledge him.
“I’m, I…” what Bob knew of his Prince was this, the fact that he could hear the tremors of his voice, the fact that he could hear that Ryan was scared meant that he was completely and utterly terrified.
“It’s okay, you’re safe now,” Bob said he hoped his voice had a soothing tone, he couldn’t tell.
“Safe?” Ryan’s voice had an edge of hysteria to it; the laugh that escaped him was harsh and bitter. “Safe?!”
“No one here will harm you,” Bob said, hands still out, Ryan looked at him, Bob could see the actual second when recognition appeared.
“I… you’re,” he took a breath, low and shallow. “I recognize you?”
Bob slowly reached into his front pant pocket, “My name is Robert Bryar,” he said, he let Ryan see all his movements. The others remained still as statues behind him, even Tom with his data pad clutched to his chest, hadn’t moved.
He pulled a card from his pocket and moved forward just a few inches, leaned down to set the card face up in the space between them, then straightened and stepped back those few inches once more.
Ryan looked between him and it and finally reached out one arm, not the one that was injured, Bob noted, and the card flew into his hand.
“Holy fuck,” he could hear Pete say behind him.
Telekinesis was one of the Prince’s gifts, telekinesis, telepathy and seven others because the royal families were nothing if not gifted.
Ryan wasn’t paying them any attention, he was running long fingers over the card and he flipped it over and Bob saw tears in his eyes when he looked back at him. Tears in his eyes and his bottom lip was trembling.
Christ, he was just a kid.
“The Way’s hired me to find you, to bring you home,” Bob said.
“Mikey,” Ryan said, voice barely a whisper.
“He’s okay, he’s fine, he’s been waiting for a long time.”
“How long?” Ryan asked.
Bob bit his lip, looked at Ryan. This was his Crown Prince; this was the boy that Mikey had loved enough that Gerard had called in every favor that was owed in some way to him just so that he could be found.
“Five years,” Bob said.
“Five years,” Ryan said, his eyes were wide. “Five years?”
Bob nodded. “I’ve got a doctor here,” Jon lifted a hand and when Bob looked over he could see that Jon was trying to look as non-threatening as possible. “Your arm is hurt; he can take a look at it.”
Ryan looked at him, looked back at the card in his hand.
“This isn’t an employee ICard,” Ryan said slowly. “This is, it’s a family card, like the one that Gerard gave to me, when,” he wiped at his face with his arm, smeared blood from his cut lip over his cheek, tears kept welling up in his eyes. “He drew a little zombie couple on mine, I think they were supposed to be Mikey and I, he drew little crowns on their heads.”
Bob smiled. “That sounds like Gerard, he’s doing vampires now but he’s still partial to zombies.”
“You’re Councilwoman Camille’s son,” Ryan said, he swallowed visibly. “You know Gerard… that’s how I know you, right? You’re friends with him?” Ryan asked. If he knew what the card was he’d know the answer to that.
“We went to school together.”
Ryan closed his eyes briefly, half a second at the most.
“Second stage bonding,” he said suddenly, eyes flying open. “You were at the ceremony for Gerard and Frank’s second stage bonding.”
Ryan looked at him and Bob nodded. Bob waved Jon forward and Jon set the bag down next to Ryan’s legs.
Ryan still had the card clutched in one hand and he looked at Bob.
“Just the arm doc,” Bob said, Ryan stared at him.
“I can heal the rest of his injuries.”
“Not before we do the Proof of Incident,” Ryan said. “Not before the pictures are taken, the statements are done and the documents are sealed.”
Jon looked back at Bob, his hands stilling on Ryan’s arm, he looked unhappy. Bob nodded.
“I’m going to go send the message,” Tom said.
“Just to the Ways, just to Gerard or Frank if possible,” Bob said. Tom nodded and walked past him, Patrick leading him up the stairs.
“It was my father,” Ryan said. His eyes were watching Jon but he seemed almost bored with the proceedings now. “That’s what the men that grabbed me said. That my father was the one that had paid them to take me.”
Ryan sat silent for the pictures, Jon let Bob take them.
“You know the protocols we’re dealing with better than I do,” Jon said and his eyes were asking questions that Bob had never had to answer because no one had thought they needed asking.
He wasn’t royal; he could feel the buzz of Joe in the back of his head wondering. He wasn’t royal, but his mother was high enough in council that he’d been schooled with Gerard and the rest of those with blood bluer then others.
She’d been pleased when he came home to help Gerard; not so pleased to find out that he’d bound himself in word and deed to someone that hadn’t come with him and that he wasn’t planning on staying once he found the Prince.
Joe was leaning against a wall in the infirmary, right next to him Pete was sitting on Jon’s desk. Both watching with intent expressions. They’d sent everyone else away, Pete stayed because he was the Captain, Joe stayed because he was Bob’s and he wanted answers.
Tom came in, data pad in hand, and he spared the two of them a look.
“Lord Way gave us coordinates for the summer cottage,” Tom said. “I already programmed them into the ships nav.”
“Gerard say anything?” Bob asked.
“Not for you, just told me to tell you to keep an eye to the sky, and to be careful. But I’m supposed to say,” he looked at Ryan then down at the data pad. “Eren tale` vol twan.”
Tom was Terran, he’d been sold into slavery when he was two and while he wasn’t fluent in a language that he should have been taught since childhood, he’d heard it enough over the last year since he’d become Bob’s constant companion to not butcher it completely. And the meaning was clear enough regardless, because Ryan blushed and a small smile formed on his lips, Bob couldn’t help himself, he grinned. When he looked back Tom was looking at him with a questioning expression and Pete and Joe and Jon all just looked confused.
“It’s Terran for…” Bob stopped when Ryan laid a hand on his arm.
“Loosely translated it means welcome home my brothers’ husband,” some of the fear had fallen from Ryan’s eyes, Bob wondered if he thought Mikey had moved on. Had given up waiting for him. “Did Gerard say anything else?”
“Just that he and Mikey would be waiting on the landing pad and that he would keep the fact that you’d been found off the airways, it’ll just be them and Ray and a couple of Gerard’s private guards waiting.”
“Did you tell him about…?” Bob waved a hand at Ryan’s appearance.
“The age thing, yeah. He said he’d figure something out, he wants you to contact him when we’re a day or so out, he also mentioned that it might be a good idea to not heal the injuries.”
Bob opened his mouth.
“I told him that there was a broken arm that we were contending with and that the Prince was in a lot of pain and he said that we could set the arm but not heal it and that we could give him something for the pain but that it would be in the Prince’s best interest to leave the visual injuries, you know, as visual as possible.”
“It’s proof that I was taken by force, against my will. It’ll curry public opinion,” Ryan said. He nodded once.
Bob closed his mouth, he couldn’t disagree with that and a look at Jon showed him still unhappy with this turn of events.
He nodded his head in acknowledgement and focused the camera for another picture.
He waited until they were little less than a day out, when he knew that Gerard would already have everyone ensconced at the Way’s summer retreat.
Patrick called up the comm. signature and turned back to his screens, attempting to give Bob something like privacy. Bob could feel Joe waiting just beyond the entrance.
“You can come in,” he called and Joe looked sheepish but determined as he came around the corner just as Gerard’s face appeared on the monitor.
“Bob,” Gerard said, he looked pleased.
“Hey Gee,” Bob rolled his shoulders.
“Sixteen?” Gerard said, he raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, not sure how we’re going to handle that,” Bob admitted.
“We handle it in the same manner as anyone else that spends a significant portion of time in cryo. He may look sixteen but all his documents will show his age as twenty-one. I’m more concerned about the implication that his father may have been involved.”
“The Prince isn’t actually sure; he’s basing it on what the men that attacked him said. They could have just been spinning a falsehood to get him off balance.”
“I wish I wasn’t as sure, his father had been trying to break the engagement for almost a year before Ryan disappeared. We’d been fighting him because Mikey and Ryan didn’t want it broken, both of them threatened to complete the bonding on their own to make sure it couldn’t happen,” Gerard said.
“That wasn’t a threat, from the things that I’m picking up from the Prince I’m almost 90% sure that they actually did complete the bond before he was snatched.”
“Hmm,” Gerard didn’t look surprised.
“You knew?” Bob asked.
“Mikey never said and I never asked,” Gerard said. “I can’t deny I knew if I actually knew.”
“You know it’s illegal to bind under the age of eighteen without parental consent,” Bob said.
“I thought parental consent was given when they were five,” Gerard had his innocent face on and Bob wasn’t in the mood to argue semantics with Gerard, instead he ran a hand over his head and sighed.
“I may have made a suggestion, I never knew if Mikey and Ryan had ever followed through and I didn’t want to push. But Mikey insisted that Ryan was alive and the low level bond that was initiated when they were originally bound wouldn’t have resulted in the type of surety that Mikey was displaying.”
“He’s doing much better now that Ryan’s been found, I think he was close to giving up hope regardless of what the bond was telling him.”
Bob nodded, “we’ve set his arm and left it in a bio-cast, I’ve sealed the pictures and documents with Dr. Walker’s seal and my own; he’s in pain and we’re managing that with relievers, you may want to arrange a Council meeting sooner rather then later.”
“It’s already scheduled; rumor has it that Ryan’s father seems to believe that it’s been called to formally break the engagement,” Gerard looked amused.
“And you’ve done nothing to facilitate those rumors?”
“I think it in our best interest if the King remains oblivious to our true intentions, his reaction at the Council meeting when Ryan comes out to take his seat as Prince-elect will be enough to prove whether he was involved in his sons abduction.”
“And if his reaction doesn’t prove that?”
“Well Mikey and Ryan are already bound, Ryan will not be returning to his family estates unless the King is dead and Ryan’s taking the throne.”
Bob nodded. “You’ve got it all planned out then.”
“I’ve had a lot of time to come up with multiple scenarios as to how this will play out,” Gerard sighed. Bob made a noncommittal noise. One of Gerard’s gifts was foresight; he’d probably been seeing those scenarios for years, possibly even before Ryan was taken.
“None of his injuries are life-threatening?”
Bob shook his head. “Just painful. You may want to have a psi-therapist on call, Tom is doing what he can to block his memories of those events right now, but he’s mostly untrained and the Prince’s memories are still fresh considering that, to him, his kidnapping was just a few days ago. They killed his bodyguard right in front of him; I think it was to attempt to bring him under some control, as it was it just made him fight harder.”
“Ryan considered Alex a friend,” Gerard said.
“Is there anyone within the Ross’ house that you trust? I’m pretty sure that you don’t have enough bodyguards to cover everyone.”
“Well you’ve consistently turned down my guards so I’ve those two, and Frank absolutely refuses to have people following him around,” Gerard made a face, “I may have also hired Zack away from the Ross’ a few months back.”
Bob laughed. Zack had been one of Ryan’s original bodyguards along with Alex. He hadn’t been with them the day that they’d been taken; Bob thought from the few times that he’d met the other man that he’d never really forgiven himself for not being there.
Even though if he’d been there he’d be dead, like Alex.
And not a waiting familiar face for Ryan now.
“You have it all planned out,” Bob repeated.
“Like I said, I’ve had a lot of time to run the scenarios.”
“Any scenarios as to how the rest of it will go?”
“They’ll adopt twins from the Caval Islands, Mikey will insist on raising them without nanny’s even though Ryan will be slightly busy running a planet.”
“Not exactly what I was asking,” Bob said.
Gerard grinned at him. “You found him; the worst is over, now it’s just rounding up the bad guys.”
“Frank’s letting you watch old murder mysteries isn’t he,” Bob made a face.
“It was either that or old soaps and Frank’s devotion only extends so far.”
Pete tracked him down in his rooms, Ryan was curled up on the bed in the room that was Tom’s and Tom was sitting with his back against the wall tapping on a datapad in Bob’s room. The doors were open because Bob needed to make sure that Ryan stayed safe for the duration of their trip. That meant keeping one eye on him at all times even though they were on a ship, mid flight, and he trusted every single person on board with his life.
“Got a problem,” Pete said, he glanced at the open door to Tom’s room then over at Tom. Ryan didn’t move though Tom looked at them with interest, hands stilling on the pad.
“Problem?” Bob asked.
“Better to show you,” Pete said.
“There’s eyes in the sky,” Ryan said, Bob had never even seen him move and now he was standing in the doorway when just seconds before he’d been laying on the bed seemingly asleep.
“How’d you know?” Pete asked, Ryan just looked at him.
“They making any noise?” Bob asked. Pete shook his head and started walking away.
“Patrick just got an alert saying that the optics were focused on us,” Pete said.
Patrick was in the control room, Brendon and Joe leaning over his shoulder.
“We could go dark,” Patrick said as they walked in.
“It wouldn’t make a difference,” Ryan said. He looked out the view screen. “That’s not what they’re looking for.”
“They’re waiting to see how many people get off the ship,” Bob said slowly, realization dawning.
“They’re waiting to see who gets off the ship,” Ryan corrected. He crossed his arms over his chest like he was cold, though his face showed no discomfort.
Pete swore under his breath and Bob silently echoed it.
“What if he doesn’t get off the ship?” Brendon asked, Bob looked at him and Pete frowned at him.
“That’s sort of the whole point of us coming here,” Patrick said.
“No I mean, it’s going to be looking for people walking off the ship, right? What about the cryo chamber?” Brendon asked, looking between them.
Ryan nodded, eyes hazy and distant. Bob wondered what exactly he was seeing.
“That could work,” Ryan said.
“Not to be the, you know, the bearer of bad news and all, but the cryo chamber is shot,” Patrick reminded them.
“Well we’re not sealing him in, he’s just got to be in it long enough to be off-loaded with the cargo and then moved to a secure location that doesn’t have eyes watching, right?”
“We’ve got a few old air packs, we could probably rig one into the chamber with him,” Joe said.
Bob looked over at Ryan, watching as he rubbed at his arms, staring out the viewscreen.
“You’ll need an alternate reason for why you’re visiting the Way’s private island,” Ryan said. He looked over at Bob and Bob looked back.
“You have something in mind?” Bob asked, even though he knew that Ryan already did, he wouldn’t have said anything if he didn’t.
Ryan glanced over at Joe then focused again on Bob.
“Have you introduced Joe to them yet?” Ryan asked. Bob didn’t know why he bothered.
“You already know the answer to that.”
“Then it’s taken care of,” Ryan said. “I’m going to go lay back down, let me know when you need me to climb back into my prison.”
Joe was standing awkwardly at his side when the ramp went down, Jon had sedated Ryan and he was now stashed in the cryo chamber waiting to be off-loaded.
“Do I need to do anything special?” Joe asked.
He sounded nervous, Bob linked their fingers together and squeezed. Pete came up to stand next to them and pointedly didn’t say anything.
“No,” Bob said, he squeezed Joe’s hand once more then released it.
“Should I have been introduced to them already?” Joe asked. Bob looked over at him. “It’s just the Prince, the way he asked if I’d been introduced to them yet… he made it sound like…”
“I’m considered a member of Gerard’s family, in order for the bond that we have in place to be considered a true bond you should have been introduced to him, at least, prior to finalizing it,” Bob said. There was a lot of ceremony to bonding.
First stages were almost always big, public affairs. Bob remembered Gerard and Frank’s only vaguely; he’d been seven when the bond was initiated. It had been Gerard’s second try; his first had been a young boy named Bert, that had been dissolved six months after it had been initiated.
First stage bonds allowed the bondees to get to know each other, allowed their families to get to know each other, if bonds were to be broken they were normally shortly after that.
The fact that Bob had not only initiated a first stage bond but completed it all without involving his family could almost be grounds for have the bond broken.
The ramp made a metal clanging noise when it hit the dock and the doors opened. Gerard had brought Mikey and Frank, flanking them were Ray and Zack and Mike Carden. Bob didn’t need to look behind him to see that Tom was probably turning four different shades of red.
They should probably see to that at some point, though he didn’t think that Tom would thank him for pressing the issue.
Gerard smiled and Bob didn’t see any confusion on his face as to why Ryan wasn’t standing there waiting with them.
Bob stepped forward, Joe and Pete and the others following. Brendon was the only one not there as he would wait on the ship for the all clear to off-load their containers. He had a gun on his hip that Pete had grudgingly handed over when Bob had voiced his concerns about leaving Ryan in the cryo chamber defenseless, Bob hoped he didn’t shoot himself with it.
“Robert,” Gerard said, all amusement and wide smiles. “And this must be Joseph.”
“Joe,” Bob corrected, Gerard rolled his eyes at him.
“Joseph’s fine,” Joe said, he sounded uncomfortable and when Bob glanced over he could see him shifting awkwardly on his feet. “I’m not sure…”
“You just shake my hand,” Gerard said. “I’m not royalty, though I am Council. And then when you get behind closed doors you scold Robert for not telling you what you needed to do.”
“We’re at your Summer Retreat,” Bob said, raising an eyebrow.
“That’s still not cause for you to not school him on what proper protocols would have been if you had met me at my home in the City.”
Bob rolled his eyes again.
“This is our Captain, Peter Wentz. I’m sure that he’ll have no problems introducing his crew to you, with proper protocols, once we get inside.”
“Of course, why don’t we go, sit, have some refreshments,” Gerard stared at him, eyes glittering brightly. “Let you get your things off the ship.”
They actually served refreshments, Greta brought out a plate of sandwiches cut into hearts and triangles.
“The staff is aware that today is an important day,” Gerard said. “Though not necessarily why it’s important.”
He looked over at where Mikey was sitting primly in a chair, hands folded together in his lap, the only visible sign that he was nervous was his teeth pulling on his lower lip as he checked the Chronoclock every few seconds.
Zack and Mike brought the chamber in using a hoverlift, Brendon following close behind them. Ray shut the doors as they settled the container in the center of the room.
“You have a ships doctor?” Gerard asked and Pete nodded, standing and waving Jon forward.
“I gave him a mild sedative before he went in, so he wouldn’t panic in the chamber,” Jon said, he pulled a hypo from his bag.
“Of course,” Gerard said.
Mikey stood slowly, gracefully walked forward, kneeling next to the control panel.
“You didn’t lock it?” he asked.
“No,” Bob shook his head. “It was in error mode when we got him out of it, and I didn’t see any reason to tempt fate by locking it.”
Mikey pressed two buttons, shifting back slightly while the top lifted up and away, retracting in on itself. Bob didn’t think he’d ever seen a smile quite like the one that was gracing Mikey’s face upon his first sight of Ryan.
The Prince was curled there, a blanket tucked around him hiding the oxygen tank that Bob knew to be there. The mask was strapped to his face and his features looked calm and peaceful, if you ignored the still visible bruises.
Mikey touched his face, stroking long fingers across his forehead and then with careful hands lifted the mask up and away. Jon shifted around behind him, pulled the blanket down slightly and pressed the hypo to the inside of his left arm.
Mikey kept touching him, Gerard and Frank moving up beside him, leaning into each other while they waited for the hypo to take effect.
It took two minutes and 14 seconds.
The whole time they waited Mikey touched him, his fingers settling along the curve of Ryan’s jawline. When Ryan finally opened his eyes, blinking his drugged sleep away, his first sight was of Mikey. A sweet smile curved his lips and he lifted the hand not hindered by a cast, letting Mikey twine their fingers together.
If Bob wasn’t sure before that the bond between Ryan and Mikey had been completely established prior to Ryan’s abduction, he would have been sure then. The bond was almost visible, dancing between them as they stared at each other.
He sat slowly, never taking his eyes off Mikey and Mikey raised their hands together so he could press his lips against Ryan’s knuckles. Then pulled him into a tight hug.
Gerard pressed a hand against the back of Ryan’s head; Frank curled further into his side, arm going around Gerard’s waist.
Ryan buried his face in the curve of Mikey’s neck and Bob didn’t need to be the type of psychic that Ryan or Mikey was to know that even though he wasn’t making a sound or a movement that he was crying.
“We should let them have some privacy,” Bob said and Gerard nodded his head. He didn’t say anything but an unseen signal from Gerard had the guards started escorting those that weren’t immediate family from the room. He knew that they would be assigning rooms for them to stay in while they waited for Council Meeting and Ryan’s unveiling.
He wondered where Gerard had decided to put Joe.
His stomach was rumbling, making its displeasure at having missed the evening meal known, but Ryan was asleep on his shoulder and Mikey couldn’t make himself go get something.
Couldn’t make himself let go of Ryan after having gone so many years without the choice of being able to touch him and hold him and soothe him when a nightmare decided to make itself known.
He knew someone would come check on them eventually, he’d put credits on it being Gerard because his brother was nothing if not a meddler and he’d want to see for himself that Ryan was okay, that Mikey was okay with Ryan.
But it could also be Frank or Zack or even Bob.
Gerard poked his head in and Mikey grinned at him, it deepened when Mikey saw that he had a tray in his hands and Greta had gone all out. At least half the foods there were among Ryan’s favorites.
Mikey shifted and he felt Ryan wake with a suddenness that he’d never managed before. They’d only shared a bed a handful of times before Ryan had disappeared, those times hadn’t been spent sleeping but the few times where they’d managed to sleep after had displayed that Ryan was nothing if not a heavy sleeper.
“You can go back to sleep,” Mikey said and he felt Ryan’s arm tighten where it was tossed over his chest.
“I think I’m hungry,” Ryan said, he sat up a little, Mikey grinned at him then cupped his face in his hands and kissed him gently. He could feel Ryan smiling against his lips and it was enough to have him pulling him even closer, arms wrapped tight around him.
“Then it’s a good thing that I brought food with me,” Gerard said from the doorway. Mikey looked over at him and Gerard was very studiously staring at the painting hanging over the dresser.
Ryan grinned at him, it looked a little tired, sort of worn around the edges, he was still scared, eventually he’d realize that he was safe, that Mikey wasn’t going to let anything happen to him, that in this room, beside him was one of the safest places that Mikey knew.
There were guards at the door and the windows and absolutely no one would be getting into the room unless they got by one of them.
Mikey climbed to his feet, knocking shoulders with Gerard as he grabbed a plate and picked an assortment of the sandwiches and breaded chips and fruit, arranging them on the plate. He folded two napkins in half and walked back over the bed, sitting on the edge with the plate on his lap as Ryan situated himself next to him.
“My father would have a heart attack if he knew that I was eating in bed,” Ryan said, he rubbed at his eyes with the arm not in the cast, he kept the casted arm cradled close to his chest and Mikey would be grateful when this was over with. When the council had met and Ryan had been revealed and the injuries that were causing him pain, the nightmares that kept him from sleeping for more than a few minutes at a time could be dealt with.
“Well we just won’t tell him then,” Mikey murmured, Ryan snuck a small smile at him.
“There is a table, we could sit there,” Gerard offered, though he pulled up a chair to the end of the bed and sat there with a coffee in hand.
“Not hungry?” Mikey asked, he handed a sandwich in the shape of a rose to Ryan, then chose one in the shape of a heart for himself, Greta was a complete and utter romantic although she denied it every time someone said something.
“Frank and I ate with Bob and Tom and the others,” Gerard asked. “I like his Joe.”
“The crew of the ship is nice,” Ryan said, he took a bite of the sandwich.
“Hmm,” Gerard murmured. “He still didn’t follow protocol though, finishing the bonding without even making the introduction first…”
“Don’t,” Ryan said, he looked at Gerard and Mikey glanced over at him. There was a look in his eyes that Mikey hadn’t seen in years.
“There’s our Prince,” Gerard said, his lips curved up into a smile.
“We’ll have to have a party once this is all done, officially introduce Bob and Joe, Bob still won’t take the land though, that’s distressing.”
“But he’ll stay and that’s enough,” Ryan said quietly.
“When do you have Council scheduled for?” Mikey asked, Ryan’s eyes were looking heavy and he knew he wouldn’t sleep, he’d catnap if that, but Mikey kind of wanted him all to himself. They used to curl up together and whisper secrets, Mikey had five years’ worth of secrets he needed to share.
“Day after tomorrow, Frank is off making sure we have enough votes if it comes to that and it’ll give us time to figure out how to get Ryan into the building unnoticed and for me to re-write my speech.”
“You really think you’re going to get through a speech?” Mikey raised an eyebrow. “Wasn’t the plan to just announce that we’d found Ryan and go from there?”
“Well, yes, but I also want to talk about true love and love over the distance of space and time and overcoming insurmountable odds…”
Mikey glanced over at Ryan and Ryan was smiling a small smile, he put an arm over his shoulder and tugged Ryan close to him, kissed the top of his head when Ryan laid his head on his shoulder.
He ignored the beaming grin on Gerard’s face and wondered how exactly they were going to keep this a secret for two days.
The council headquarters was in the old district, it was tall and spacious and every council member had their own little alcove where they were allowed to admit family and friends numbering up to ten.
Gerard had Frank on one side and Mikey on the other, Joe to Frank’s left and Pete and his immediate crew spanned out behind him.
Bob, Tom and Zack were with Ryan, and he knew they were in the building. He’d seen this so many times, that he knew how this was going to go. There were always minor little things that changed, but the reappearance of Ryan in his alcove right after Gerard started speaking never did.
“You ready?” Frank asked, he linked their fingers together and squeezed and Gerard lifted them to his lips.
“Lord Way,” came a female voice from the doorway, there were very few people that Mike wouldn’t stop at the door. This woman was one of them.
“Ma’am,” he released Frank’s hand and stood, turning he tossed a brief smile in her direction.
“I hear that my son returned, though he has yet to grace me with his presence,” Camille Bryar was one of the longest standing Council Members, though Frank had assured him that if it came to a vote that she would side with them rather than the King.
“He’s off running an errand for me at the moment,” Gerard smiled, his eyes cut to the right where Joe seemed to be fascinated by things not happening in their alcove. “I’m sure he’ll appear shortly.”
“I’m sure he will,” Camille smiled at him, a secret small smile as she studied the back of Joe’s head, she raised a brow at him and he nodded once and inclined his head. “I suppose I should make my way to my seat, tell Robert that I’ll expect to see him within the next couple of days, I’m an old woman and unforeseen things happen with age.”
Gerard could see Joe jerk out of the corner of his eye at Bob’s name, head and body twisting as he turned to look at the woman standing in the doorway. She gave him a small smile and Joe bit his lip and looked nervous.
“You’ll outlive us all ma’am,” Gerard smiled, “We’ll be having a party in a few days, to celebrate recent events. I’ll have Bob contact you with the specifics.”
“Of course,” Camille tilted her head at him and walked back out of the alcove.
Gerard resettled in his seat and Joe leaned forward, looking over at him with the strangest of expressions on his face.
“Yes,” he said, though Joe hadn’t even opened his mouth to utter the words. “And she knows who you are so when Bob goes to see her you should maybe join him if you intend for us to leave the bond unbroken.”
The horn blaring signaled the start of Council and Gerard came to his feet, Mikey and Frank beside him the others a half-second behind.
He took a deep breath, released it as the lights in the auditorium and the alcoves dimmed, until the only light was the one that was visible in the Royal alcove. Their King stood there, his immediate advisors to the left and right of him.
The alcove to the right of the Royal alcove was the one where the Heir-Apparent would sit, for every Council meeting since his disappearance the alcove had been half-dimmed, it never went dark and Gerard had always wondered if the day that the alcove went dark would mean that their King had given up all hope that his son would be found alive.
“Good afternoon,” the proctor’s voice boomed, monitors and speakers already in place. “We have been summoned by Lord Way to hear an announcement.”
Gerard stood and stepped forward, the lights came up in his alcove and he looked directly at the King.
“In seven days,” he began, he’d thought about this long and hard, wrote speech after speech until he’d had the final realization that it wasn’t going to matter what he said, the moment that Ryan appeared it would be barely remembered that he’d even been speaking, “we will once more be at the anniversary of the first stage bonding of our future King and my only sibling, in nine days we will once more mourn the absence of our future King…”
He kept his eyes focused on the King as he spoke, if he looked to the right Mikey would be trying to kill the King with his eyes, he had not ever been successful, obviously, but that definitely was not for lack of trying. He noted that the King looked old and worn and tired and he thought suddenly that there was no way that he was involved in Ryan’s abduction.
He hoped he was right.
He could time the absolute second when Ryan stepped into his alcove and was seen by eyes that were not sitting in the alcove with him or standing alongside Ryan; he could feel the weight of the hum of voices as recognition dawned on those eyes that were seeing him for the first time in five long years and he waited exactly six second before he allowed his eyes to leave the King’s and move to the left, to see Ryan standing there, looking pale and wan and tired and broken in ways that he hadn’t looked when he’d last seen him hours prior kissing Mikey goodbye.
Mikey stood beside him and moved forward, eyes open wide and he’d not thought his brother could pull it off, but he knew with absolute certainty that his brother looked the part of the stunned onlooker.
There was muttering and voices and they were getting louder as the Proctor yelled for order.
“My Prince,” Gerard said bowing low, he still had the speaker’s chair and his voice echoed through the council room.
“Lord Way,” Ryan inclined his head, Gerard straightened and watched as he looked over at his father. “Father.”
“Ryan,” the King whispered, the King was not involved, but the advisor at his left hand definitely was.
It took them more than twenty minutes to get out of the alcove area, being stopped by everyone and their brothers and sisters.
Did you see, I thought he was dead, oh my god’s the Prince is alive, ringing in the air around him.
Gerard was in front of their group; Frank kept one hand latched around his wrist, the other tugging Bob’s Joe along beside them.
Mikey hoped that Gerard knew where he was going as he was the one leading them; he assumed it was in the right direction as members of the Royal Guard stepped in front and behind their group as they moved at a snail’s pace down the hallways.
The Guard shielded them slightly more, there were no additional stops, no more interruptions until they got to the door that Mikey recognized as being the entrance to the quiet rooms utilized by the Royal Family.
“Lord’s Way,” a guard bowed, eyes flitting across their group. He didn’t hold them back, just pushed open the door and Gerard led the way in, Mikey right behind him, Frank and Joe and the rest of the crew of the ship that had brought Ryan home behind them.
The King was alone in the room, sitting in a chair by the window looking old and pale; when he looked at them there was hope in his eyes though.
Like he hadn’t thought he’d live long enough to see Ryan returned to them.
“The doctors are with him now,” the King said, he stood slowly, using the back of the chair to aid his way up.
Mikey wondered if they’d managed to bring Ryan home just in time to witness his father dying; there’d been no official announcement of an illness or imminent death, though with no Heir to take his place maybe they’d not thought of a way to pass the lines of succession on.
“Robert Bryar said that the ship’s doctor had the Proof of Incident?” he asked, Gerard looked back and Jon Walker stepped forward, pulling a large red envelope from the bag that he’d been carrying. Mikey could see Bob’s seal as well as what he assumed was Walker’s and possibly a third that might have been the ship’s captain.
“Yes sir, your highness, sir,” Walker held the envelope out and Gerard took it from his hand, handing it over to the King with little fanfare.
The King summoned a guard with nary a blink and the envelope was whisked away behind closed doors, the King sat once more.
“I,” he drew a hand over his face, if anything he looked more tired when he looked over at them. “I apologize Lord Way for any insult that you thought I was leveling upon your family by trying to break the bond between my son and your brother.”
“The Prince chose him,” Gerard said quietly. “You asked, as I sat there when they were barely thirteen and he told you that he wanted Mikey.”
“I know,” the King closed his eyes. “I thought they were too young, that Ryan couldn’t possibly know what he wanted at thirteen; I thought that your brother was the only young man that he’d been exposed to that wasn’t bound and as such was the only one that he would feel comfortable choosing… I thought I was doing what his mother wanted, doing the right thing after forcing him into the wrong thing by not giving him a choice.”
Joe was trying to make himself invisible. He kind of thought that might be the only reason that they were still in the room, why they hadn’t been asked to leave the King’s chambers as they waited for the doctors to come out of the room they had sequestered themselves and the Prince and Bob in.
Andy leaned against the wall next to him, Joe crossed his arms over his chest and they waited.
The King sat silent, hunched over in his chair, Gerard had sat himself in a chair near him and Mikey paced the floor in front of the door. He didn’t look like he was pacing, he looked like was wandering a meandering route around the room, but his ending point was always directly in front of the door.
When it opened he was there and the youngish man that walked out didn’t seem surprised to see him there.
“Lord Way,” he inclined his head and Mikey jerked his at him in response.
“Your Highness,” the bow to the King was deep and formal, Joe glanced over and saw Gerard’s hand on the King’s arm, helping him gain his feet slowly.
“How is my son?” the King asked, his face had lost the tired, sick look that had been on it when they’d entered the room and he stared at the Doctor as if he could read his mind.
Joe wondered if he could, at one point Bob had listed off to him some of the gifts that the Royal Families in particular were known for. Telepathy had been one of them, he just couldn’t remember if it had been the King or the Prince that had been known for it.
“… broken arm,” the doctor was saying when he tuned back in. “There were some internal injuries, they were noted in the Proof of Incident, and then healed, Mr. Conrad has done what he can considering his level of training, but there is definitely some Psi-trauma. I’ve put out some feelers for a Counselor, there’s one or two that I think he would feel comfortable working with…” the doctor paused, looked down at the pad in his hands then back up. Eyes focusing on Mikey first, then back on the King.
“They tried to force-bond him,” he said quietly. The King made a sound but it was nothing like the sound of rage that came from Mikey’s throat.
Joe looked at him and there was no expression on his face, unless you focused on his eyes which were dark and angry.
“It didn’t work of course, he already has a five stage bond in place,” the doctor said, the expression on his face was apologetic when he glanced at Mikey.
The King licked his lips, mouth opening and closing twice before his shoulders straightened.
“How long?” he asked, his voice was quiet, but filled with an underlying hint of something that demanded truth and nothing but the truth.
“It depends on which one of them you examine,” the doctor started. The King looked at him, eyes focusing intently. “Your son was in a cryo chamber, I don’t believe they opened it or removed him from it once when the force-bonding didn’t work. Cryo forces everything into a state of suspended animation, even bonds. Lord Way’s half is slightly over five years, the Prince’s half is just shy of four weeks.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” the King said, “you may return to my son now.”
“My… son-in-law will join you in a moment,” the King said, his tone brooked no argument and the Doctor inclined his head and went back into the room, the door closing firmly behind him. “How dare you…”
“You were going to send him away,” Mikey said, his lips were thin and at his side his hands were clenched into fists. Frank made a sound and went to stand beside him, hand wrapping around his arm.
“Gee had a dream, a nightmare,” Mikey said softly. “He wouldn’t talk about it, wouldn’t tell us what nightmare vision of the future it foretold, but I knew, we all knew from the way that he watched Ryan that it had something to do with him.”
“You should have said something; any of you could have said that there was danger to him and I would have…”
“You would have what? You still would have sent him away, and it still would have happened. I couldn’t,” Mikey took a slow breath. “Do you think I wanted to live like this? I had just shy of three weeks with him with the bond fully realized; just three weeks of knowing that he was mine and I was his and that things were maybe going to be okay. And then I had to live five years of hell, of doubting everything that I knew to be the truth. Of knowing he was alive and wondering if it was even going to matter, if I wouldn’t be dead before we figured out where he was being hidden.”
Joe touched his chest, he wondered if that was how Bob felt, knew that it probably was and he was glad and sad at the same time that he couldn’t feel whatever connection tied them together. Bob said it was there, and Joe trusted Bob to not lie to him.
He would purposefully keep secrets, but he would never tell him a lie to his face.
“We knew he was in cryo of some sort,” Gerard said, he touched the Kings arm, drew him back to a chair so he could sit. “We just didn’t know where. I called Bob home because I knew if I could get him pointed in the right direction that we could find him.”
The King ran a hand over his face.
“You may go to my son now,” the King said quietly and Mikey nodded, Frank followed him out of the room casting a glance back at Gerard before the door shut.
“You should have said something,” the King murmured softly, he looked over at Gerard. “If you had told me that… we could have used their bond to find him sooner.”
“We didn’t know if you were involved in his disappearance in the first place,” Gerard said. “And I didn’t want to draw any further attention to Mikey then what he was already drawing himself just by virtue of being the Prince’s bondmate.”
Bob and Tom were at the foot of the bed that Ryan was sitting on, he felt safe, knowing that they were there. Knowing that they were watching for any sign that the doctors were doing something that was not needed.
Zack stood in position by the window and everyone looked vastly different and yet completely the same.
The door opened and the doctor came back in, Ryan didn’t fidget, though there was some small part of him that wanted to. The cast lay heavy against his legs, his other hand lay on top of it.
The door opened again and Mikey was there, Frank right behind him. Frank went to Bob and Tom, heads bending together as they talked amongst themselves. Mikey came to him, sitting beside him on the bed, arm going over his shoulders tugging him into his side.
“My father knows,” he said and Mikey made a noise that sounded like agreement.
“He wasn’t as angry as I thought he’d be,” Mikey mused, “though he could be out there tearing a strip off of Gee.”
“Gerard didn’t know,” Ryan said, he laid his head on Mikey’s shoulder, moving as close as he could.
“I don’t think that really matters to him, he’s more concentrating on the fact that we were minors when we did it,” Mikey shrugged and then leaned his head against Ryan’s. He kind of wanted to cling to him, wanted to study all the differences that time had wrought in Mikey.
But he knew if he did, that Mikey would study him as well and he was exactly the same as he’d been the last time they’d spent any length of time together, he didn’t want to know if Mikey regretted in any way completing the bond when they had.
“Never,” Mikey murmured. “You are mine and I am yours and that’s the way things will be forever more.”
Ryan nodded, closed his eyes and sat there, listening to Mikey breathe and the quiet hum of Bob and Frank and Tom talking and the feeling of being safe suffusing itself into his very bones.
He was home.