Jason was making his way over. Chad grinned and stroked a hand over Alpha who was whuffing excitedly. Yeah, Alpha could feel it too. The wards were connected to Chad because he'd laid them with Jason and since Alpha was his familiar, they could both feel Jason as he passed through that work. And there was the whiff of thyme and a flower just out of Chad's range, it made him bounce up onto his toes.
They were good wards, the best. Because Chad and Jason had laid them, obviously. They'd taken, like, a week to do, Jason and Chad been super thorough about it. They'd designed the wards themselves, Jason was great with mapping and Chad was always on top of prepping and mixing. He'd collected everything, all kinds of stuff like fresh herbs from Chad's patch and the dried and pounded portions, animal teeth, and of course their own blood.Chad could draw that without a pinch. He always loved watching Jason spell. He'd watched the warding - Jason's fingers dipped in blood and his mouth murmuring what needed to be said. Chad had ended up with red thumbprints all over his neck and chest and Jason's kohl had gotten so smudged. It'd been a really awesome night.
So now their home was protected, with the best wards in the neighborhood, no, the best in the city. Bayley had said more than once that she'd gone to knock on their door and had gotten a shiver right across her neck. She hadn't been hurt because her intentions had been awesome. Other people, they got a smack at least, a sting across their skin. Because Jason and Chad's wards knew intentions, like when Dash and Dawson tried to sneak over to cause damage. They saw Chad in action most days thanks to their body shop opposite where Chad worked out and all four of them shopped at a lot of the same stores and Dash and Dawson were so obviously jealous of Jason and Chad's skills. Like, Dash and Dawson were good, their talents were tied up in metal and machines, but they weren't Jason and Chad and they totally knew it.
So they liked to screw with Jason's engine and it was definitely their fault that the mailman sometimes skipped Jason and Chad's house. Last week, Chad had fiddled with the wards so that if the intent was right, unwanted visitors got brightly-colored streaks across really obvious skin. Purple didn't suit Dash and Dawson at all. It was been amazing.
Jason's intent was so clear right now, it was like the wards were singing. There was that smell, getting stronger, and the vibe was full of greetings and grins, like the one Jason wore a lot and that Chad really liked seeing. He was really looking forward to seeing it tonight.
Jason had been away – a friend from way back had called because their dad was in hospital. Chad had wanted to go too, to support Jason, but Jason had told him not to. He hadn't wanted to drag Chad through a hospital and the thick antiseptic spells that cloaked every surface, as well as the painful whirlpool lingering of loss and sickness. Okay, yeah, it wasn't Chad's favorite thing, Chad was made for outside weather where his magic really sparked up but Jason shouldn't have had to do through it alone either.
“I can deal with it.”
“Hey, I can too!”
So what if the last time Chad had been in a hospital he'd like gone all faint from the strength of some of the sickness mixing with the healing spells. He'd been totally fine once he'd gotten back on his feet. He'd have dealt with it, Jason had needed him. Jason had traced a finger over the start of Chad's right-hand sleeve of tattoes, which was a total cheat because it always made Chad shiver. And Jason had been close and really warm and Chad hadn't been able to resist running his hands over Jason's wrist and hand tattooes – it was really good work; lattice patterns and college colours interspersed with particular whorls and knots that Chad loved to read over and over again. They suited Jason, protecting him and telling everyone the level of skill that Jason had, which was a lot by the way.
Jason had touched Chad's neck, right where the tattoo of flowering rosemary was. Jason had looked totally determined.
“I can tap in if I need it.”
That was true and Jason had gone. It'd been days and Chad had really missed him. Alpha had been great company of course and they'd gotten a lot done – Chad was now going to beat Jason even harder on the basketball court, oh yeah. He'd spent time with Enzo and Cass, whose magic was getting even stronger and more intertwined and Enzo's hair was like growing to reflect that, all different colors and styles, thought there was definitely a leopard-print thing going on because Carmella always wore some too. Chad had worked hard on his herb patch, he'd lost himself in the dirt, in roots and buds and what needed to be strengthened and how good their crop was right now. Outside, man, it was awesome. He'd smelled sweetpeas and apple blossom for hours, a real tell when none of that actually grew in his garden. A good sign for sure.
And that was Jason's key in the lock and Alpha was barking really happily and Jason was dropping his bags and looking tired but he was smiling too with really hungry eyes. His tattooes hadn't changed at all and he was definitely looking at Chad like he was checking too. Come on, like Chad was going to change.
Chad could move fast though and he got to Jason before he even got a word out, taking a leap so that his legs wrapped strong around Jason's waist. Jason didn't even stagger, he just looked amused – and he was totally pleased as well, Chad could tell. Chad's hands bunched in Jason's shirt and made sure to touch the bars that Jason was wearing through both nipples. Jason's breath hitched and he pointedly touched the back of Chad's neck and that part of his knee that always made Chad shudder. Oh yeah. There was the thyme and oh...
“I'm coming with you next time,” Chad told him,pressing hungry kisses to Jason's lips between words and sometimes in the middle of them too.
Because he could feel how hard it'd been for Jason, there was a tug of pain all over him. Chad dug his fingers into Jason's chest and Jason kissed him like almost softly, his hands strong at Chad's thighs. He was happy to be back. Yeah, Chad was really happy to have him back too. He really wished he'd been there though, to help bolster Jason under the pain. He totally could have done it, he could have taken precautions, like working on shielding himself from the sickness and healing spells he would have knocked into. Asuka would have helped if he'd asked.
Jason insisted though, “It was fine, it was...a lot.”
Yeah, Chad had had days like that too, when things had been really screwy thanks to the vetenarian cases he'd been dealing with – cats were always the worse and so were goldfish, they were so complicated, man. Sometimes certain cases spiked and twisted his abilities, Chad hated how that felt. Jason had been dealing with a lot of negative energy, a different type but it'd definitely caught onto him.
“So lots of rest, lots of strength, together.”
Because they were partners, right? Chad had a tattoo especially for Jason, right across his ribs. Jason had one for Chad too. Like all their tattooes, they weren't just statements. Chad's rib ink tingled as Jason touched him, and Chad knew that the same thing was totally happening to Jason right now too. Connected. They were the best team. They dealt with Dash and Dawson, and whoever when there were problems and they'd totally deal with everything else too, death, goldfish, everything. Jason and Chad were like that – the best.
Jason kissed with a little more teeth and pressure now, just the way Chad liked. The tingle across Chad's skin was only getting stronger. Yes. He'd really missed this too.
Alpha barked loudly at their heels but didn't really try to interrupt. He was a great familiar. Chad's hair got in his eyes and he wished he'd tied it back, his tattoes that marked his face were itching a little too. Two detailed patterns trailed down from his temples, from the outside edge of his eyes, and there was one across his cheek, the product of a story that'd run through his family for years, about his oldest cousin and a trip to New Zealand. The tattoo was a design a lot of his family shared now.
Jason had always liked that tattoo. His thumb trailed across it now, pressing away the itch and sending deeper tingles through Chad, making him squirm and squeeze around Jason's waist. Jason stayed on balance, just, and they ended up in the lounge, dominating the couch that almost took up a whole wall. Chad was happy, feeling that weight again, all those amazing tingles that he knew were still affecting Jason because he could see how big Jason's pupils were getting.
Right then though, right then the tingles twisted and changed because suddenly there was like a warning sear through Chad, through Jason too, because that feeling meant only one thing - someone with bad intentions had barrelled through the wards. They pulled apart immediately and Jason rolled to his feet, Chad following, his heartbeat fast. Who the hell was trying to spoil Jason's homecoming? Chad had really been looking forward to it!
“Did you feel anything?” Jason asked, pressed close to the floor.
Chad frowned, “Of course, dude!”
Jason was frowning too, making his way over to the window and rubbing the back of his neck, like when he couldn't get a spell to hang right. There was moonlight all over him and he looked so pissed. Then there was the smell of burned sage as Chad joined him and the sound of something breaking. Chad met Jason's gaze, okay, he'd missed this too. Not the wards pinging, the kissing stopping, reunion on too much hold, but this, together, ready to win, again.
Jason was murmuring under his breath, his fingers flicking signs through the air, tracing out the wards, plugging himself into them – of course he'd left a back door for this kind of thing. Chad jerked his head to Alpha who reached Chad's side and huddled in, growling with his ears sharp back. He knew too.
Chad didn't need to dig deep for what he needed. It wasn't just inked on his skin, all right, Chad was really good at seeing what was there around him and how to use it, meshing it all with what flew through his blood and bones. He'd worked hard on developing it, for his everyday work and so that he'd be better than everyone else. Winning was important.
It was easier with Jason. Chad built on the back of Jason's plug into the wards and arched a sharp snap of air towards where the disturbance was coming from. There was a shout and yeah, that was Dawson. Of course it was. What, he and Dash thought they'd use Jason's return, like he and Chad would be too distracted, the wards relaxed or something, so Dash and Dawson could get in and cause damage? Chad could see the moment that Jason got it too. He could see the faint sheen of Jason's tattooes, the way Jason's muscles bunched and flexed, he could feel how Jason fed energy through their connection just as Chad used Jason's work through the wards to keep pinpointing their problem. They were going to solve this, of course they were.
Fox teeth, rosemary to grind and some to burn, couple of spoonfuls of wasp honey, a bit of motor oil. Beard hair, from both of those losers. Dash and Dawson were going to fry. The idea was already wefting in Chad's mind. Yeah, this was going to work, it was going to be awesome. Fuck anyone who interrupted his reunion with Jason.
He took another look through the window – Dash was running the length of the house, suddenly not caring about keeping off grid, and there was movement a little further off amongst the cornflowers. Chad sent out a shudder of electric shock – pulled from the static of the air, his whip-quick lift and pull of it, breathing in like a cold winter morning and there was his breath – and heard a very pained cry. They'd better not have ruined his herb patch.
Jason had found the problem point and was working on restrengthening it and yeah, there were more yells and more glass breaking – they'd gotten round the other side of the house and this was really going to suck tomorrow and that was a burning smell.
“No, no, no, no!”
Chad ran into the hallway and into the kitchen, shoving open the window to see Dawson with a ton of thick purple marks all over his head and beard, way vicious happiness on his face as he stoked flames that were tearing through the earth and greenery that was Chad's pride and happiness. No, no, no, no, no!
Jason was at his back as Chad grabbed down at anger and pain and at the loneliness he felt when Jason wasn't around. Jason was muttering and drawing images in the air and Dash and Dawson howled.
They didn't wait around, not after that shot. They staggered, backs bowed in pain, as Chad pulled again to release more. Those were his herbs, he'd worked on them for years, you know? He grabbed the extinguisher from the kitchen and got to work. The fire, thankfully, was soon stopped. Alpha was snuffling around his feet and Jason was holding onto his shoulder. The wind was picking up and there was the glisten of glass. Yeah, they had a lot to clear up. Dash and Dawson were gone though and there was a faint sound of sirens. Right, they had a report to make and Chad had a garden to sort through, to see if any of it could be saved. His heart hurt so much. Talk about an evening, a week ruined. No wins.
He sagged and Jason slung an arm around him, warm and present, the crackle between them wrapped in thyme and beautiful buttery tulips, so strong that Chad could taste it on the back of his tongue.