Tessa stood in the kitchen of the L.A. institute, holding her two-year-old son proudly.
“Hello, William,” Dru smiled at the adorable baby.
“We call him Liam,” said Tessa, sweetly.
“Liam,” Dru repeated, and brushed a finger across his chubby cheek. Liam giggled.
“It’s good to see you again,” Emma and Jem were sitting at the kitchen table, catching each other up on everything they’d missed in the last two years. Emma and Julian had plenty of adventures while abroad, though the adventures of raising a newborn seemed just as harrowing.
“Kit is actually the one who suggested the visit. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s timed perfectly with Tiberius’ summer vacation,” said Jem.
Emma leaned forward slightly, “Ty hasn’t spoken much about Kit at all.”
Jem fought a smile, “Well, from what I’ve heard from Kit— which is quite a lot— Ty emailed him a few weeks ago. They’ve been talking almost every night since.”
Emma leaned back in her chair, “Interesting.” She glanced into the doorway where Ty and Kit still stood, their heads bent together like co-conspirators. Like the Sherlock and Watson they used to be.
“Breakfast is ready,” Julian stepped back from the stove holding two plates with steaming stacks of pancakes.
Kit and Ty were so caught up in conversation that Julian had to repeat his proclamation again. It took a truly special conversation for Ty to ignore pancakes. Emma sipped her orange juice and studied Ty, who was looking at Kit.
Once breakfast was finished up, Dru did the dishes, Jem and Tessa went to put Liam down for a nap, and Ty and Kit disappeared. Julian pulled Emma out the door and toward the beach, where they started walking down the shore hand in hand.
“Liam is one cute baby,” Julian said, wandering a little further into the ocean, “and he’s hardly cried.”
“Have you heard from Tavy?” Emma asked.
“Yeah, he got to New York safely last night,” Julian said. Tavy was spending the weekend with Mark in New York City. He was only 9, but Mark would take good care of him. And he’d get to visit with Max and Rafe.
“So,” Emma gave a little kick, sending up a splash.
Julian glanced at her, “So what?”
Emma pressed her lips together, but couldn’t stop her smile. “So, Ty and Kit.”
Julian stopped walking. He looked at Emma. “You’ve noticed it, too?”
Emma was thrilled, “Yes. I thought I was the only one—”
“They’re very obvious about it,” Julian said. “But I— I didn’t want to assume.”
“Me neither,” Emma quickly agreed. “But how exciting. I always knew they were friends, but something about them now seems different. Or maybe we just never noticed it before.”
“No, it’s definitely different,” said Julian. He let go of Emma’s hand. “I need to give him the Talk.”
“The Talk?” Emma raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you think he’s figured that out of his own by now. I mean, we did.”
“I still need to talk to him,” Julian insisted, “At the very least, I need to cover the basics. Remind him to use a birth control rune—”
Emma tilted her head, “Will he need to use a birth control rune?”
Julian opened his mouth, but then quickly snapped it shut. He looked up, deep in thought. Then he folded his arms.
“Julian,” Emma spun around in a swivel chair as Julian focused intently on the computer screen. “Anything you read online, I’m sure Ty has already seen.”
“We don’t know that,” said Julian. “Besides, I want him to feel comfortable talking to me about this part of his life, so I should be able to answer as many questions as I can. You know Ty loves asking questions.”
Emma threw her head back, “You’ve been reading this wikihow article for twenty minutes.”
“It has some valuable information. Plus, it’s one of the easiest to understand. There’s pictures,” Julian continued scrolling. “You don’t have to research with me, if you’d rather—”
Emma spun around again, “I know you want to do a practice conversation before you go confront Ty.”
Julian slowly smiled, “It really helps.”
Emma lightly sighed, but she was smiling.
Julien stood in the hallway outside of Ty’s room, talking softly to himself.
“Hey, Ty. I couldn’t help but notice that you and Kit seem really close. I think that’s great—”
Ty’s bedroom door opened, and Ty blinked in surprise at the sight of brother.
“Ty,” Julian blurted, caught off guard.
“Hi,” Ty leaned against the door frame. “Do you want something?”
Julian took a deep breath, “Yes, actually. Could I come inside?”
Ty looked over Julian’s shoulder, and then shrugged. “Okay.”
Ty’s room was the same as the day he’d left for the scholomance. He’d been back to visit during the standard vacation periods, but he’d never done much redecorating. A stack of sherlock holmes novels still towered on his nightstand, next to a lamp and alarm clock.
“Ty.” Julian sat on Ty’s bed, while Ty took the leather office chair he had near his desk. The brothers were only three feet apart, “I want to talk to you.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
“It’s about Kit.” Julian said, going slightly off script from the approach he and Emma had decided on.
Ty looked like he’d been doused in ice water. He immediately straightened up, and clamped his hands together tightly in his lap. Julian hadn’t been expecting such a strong reaction. He had to tread lightly.
“What about him?” Ty asked.
Julian chose his words carefully, “I’ve recently realized that you and Kit, together, might do a certain activity—”
Before he could go any further Ty dropped his face into his hands. Julian froze. Ty mumbled something into his hands.
“What was—” Julian was immediately cut off as Ty said louder.
“I knew you’d find out. I knew. I’m so stupid. I tried to hide it for so long.”
The fact that Ty had felt the need to hide a part of himself stung, but before he could address that Julian had more a more urgent question.
“So long? How long have you and Kit been doing this?”
Ty shook his head, extremely upset. “We’re not doing anything now. We did it before. Two years ago. And only once, I swear. You have to believe me.”
Julian’s eyebrows shot up. “Two years ago? When you were, you were fifteen?”
“I know. I know it was stupid. Ragnor Fell tried to talk me out of it, but—”
Julian’s jaw dropped, “Ragnor Fell?”
“I, well, Kit and I, went to him for help. Obviously neither of us knew what we were doing, and he seemed like the best option.”
Julian tried to process. “Why didn’t you talk to me? Or Mark, or even Emma—”
“I tried to talk to you, but at the time you were all pretty preoccupied with saving the world. But Kit and I needed Ragnor for other insight. You know. Guidance, and supplies. He clearly knows a lot more about the process than any of you. And, it was right after Livy. . . and I was lost, and confused. I thought that it was the right decision. I thought doing it would help, fix everything. But it didn’t.”
Julian looked at his brother, now almost a man at 17, and saw the young boy he used to carry to bed after late nights in the library. The boy he used to comfort after nightmares, and read bedtime stories to, Livy always close to his side.
“We all made decisions then, that we may regret now,” Julian thought about his own rash choices, the spell he’d had placed on him. The cage he’d been inside. “It’s okay, Ty. I only wish you’d told me.”
“I knew you wouldn’t approve,” said Ty.
“Well, you may have been a little young,” Julian said, “but what you did, what you felt, wasn’t wrong. It’s natural. And I’m proud of you for being true to yourself.”
Ty grimaced, “It wasn’t exactly natural.”
“Of course it was,” Julian said reassuringly, “all of us have certain urges, and what you did with Kit is completely normal. I just want to make sure that when you do it again that you take precautions to make sure you and Kit are safe.”
Ty looked up sharply, “Julian, I will never do something like that again. Ever.”
Julian was a little surprised, “Well, that’s okay, too. I still think we should talk about safety—”
“There’s no need,” Ty said quickly. “We won’t— I mean, Kit didn’t even want to do it then.”
Julian’s stomach dropped. “What—”
“He wanted to do it at first,” Ty clarified, “I mean, I thought he did. But by the end, he thought it was a bad idea. I had to finish by myself.”
Julian struggled to formulate a respond. “Ty. I. Let’s, let’s start from the beginning. When you want to have sex with someone, the first and most—”
“Whoa,” Ty loudly interrupted him. “Why are you talking about sex?”
“Ty, I’m talking about the precautions needed when it comes to having sex. I’ve noticed that you and Kit seem to have a close relationship— though I didn’t realize you’d already gotten physical—”
“Julian, no.” Ty had always had pale skin, but Julian had never seen it look so red, “No, no, no. No. I was not talking about— about sex— with Kit, or with, with anyone. I thought you were talking about—” Ty’s mouth suddenly clamped shut. He took a chain out of his pocket and began to play with it.
“What did you think I was talking about?”
“Nothing,” Ty said, wrapping the chain around one finger.
“Tiberius,” Julian said, solemnly, “What did you and Kit do two years ago?”
“Uh,” Ty floundered. He turned his left, suddenly, and stared into space.
“Ty,” Julian said, his mind reeling with possibilities. What could he be so ashamed up? Did he and Kit steal something, or maybe they snuck into the shadow market? Oh, god. What was so bad that Ty had needed to keep it a secret for two years?
Ty turned back toward his brother, “Uh, yeah, sex. Kit and I had sex. So much sex.”
“I want the truth, Tiberius.” Julian didn’t want any secrets between them, not anymore. Not between family. “Please.”
Ty crumbled. “Okay.” He took a shaky breath, “Kit and I did necromancy.”
Julian’s jaw dropped, “WHAT!?”
Livy’s ghost flew from Ty’s left, to behind Julian on the bed. She glanced at Julian’s furious expression.
“You are soooo grounded,” she smirked.
“Emma, there’s no wikihow for this,” Julian had a hand in his hair, his face glued to the computer screen.
Emma was far more interested in this research, “Keep scrolling. Maybe you could ask on yahoo answers— how to give my younger brother the necromancy talk.”
“Emma.” Julian hung his head in his hands.
“I’m sure it’s a lot more common than you might think.”