Promptly Penned

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Hi all. Today is a promptly penned post. I gave it a fair shake, I swear.  It's been all kinds of crazy here. The hubs is off on a long-ass business trip, I'm sick, and life, in general, with its regular brand of madness... But enough about that. Here's what came to me. The prompt will be in bold in the story.


"Hurry! Before Gran comes back!"

I glanced over my shoulder and glared at my little sister, Hattie, who was in the window, keeping a look out. Or at least that's what she was supposed to be doing. Instead, she was staring at me, clearly freaked out.

"Shhh. Keep watching, for crying out loud!"

Once she did that, I turned back to the bookshelf in front of me. Perched on the chair I'd dragged from the desk, I reached as I high as I could. Almost there... My fingers scrabbled along the spine of one of the books I was after. So close...

They were my mom's, and I just wanted to see. She had magic, just like Hattie and me. And there had to be something in them, something more than what Gran was teaching us. We weren't like kids in books who had no idea what they were - we were witches. Or magic-users, as Gran called us. We were meant to keep it secret from everyone else but here, in Gran's cottage, she was teaching us all about ourselves and the "great power and responsibility" we had. Or so she said.

Honestly, based on what we've learned so far, magic wasn't all it was cracked up to be. For example, there were 20 spells for making tea but none to save yourself from falling off a cliff. What was the point of it all then? How was dinking around like this supposed to be a responsiblity? I didn't get it. So, I thought if I could read Mom's journals and her books, maybe I could figure some of it. And...well, I missed her and Dad. I wasn't stupid or anything. I didn't think magic could bring them back or let me talk to them from the grave. But this could make me, and Hattie, feel closer to them. Even a little.

I was able to drag the slim book closer to the edge and grasp it fully. I pulled it down and cracked it open. My breath caught at the sight of my mom's handwriting on the pale pages. Before I had a chance to read anything, Hattie squealed.

"Cody! I see her car!"

I jumped off the chair - I'd get the other books later - and dragged it back to the desk. I heard the front door open, creaking on its hinges. Hattie stared at me, face pale, gray eyes wide.

"It's fine. Sit on the couch," I whispered, tucking the book into the loose waistband of my pants, the cover hard and cool against my belly. I yanked my t-shirt down to cover it.

My sister sat on the couch carefully and faced the TV, which was playing some ridiculous educational program neither of us had any interest in, but Gran thought was worthwhile. I ignored the guilt that weighted on me as I flopped down next to her. The book was our mom's - and by all rights, it was ours now that she was gone. And I wasn't a little kid anymore, no matter what Gran thought. I was ready to know more about magic - certain there had to be more.

"Sorry it took so long!" Gran exclaimed as she came into the room. "Mrs. Miller was feeling more ill than she let on, and I wanted to be sure she was all right before I left."

"S'okay," I mumbled.

"You must be starving." She dropped kisses on the tops of both of our heads before hurrying toward the kitchen. "I'll make some sandwiches."

As soon as she was out of sight, I sprang up. I looked down at Hattie, and she nodded. We'd promised to always look out for each other, and I knew she'd keep her mouth shut.

"We'll look at it tonight," I whispered, then ran out into the foyer and up the narrow stairs to my room. Heart pounding, I pulled out the book. Unable to resist, I opened it again and ran my fingers over the words - words Mom had written - and my eyes started stinging.

"Cody!"

I nearly fell over when Gran's shout traveled up the stairs.

"Yeah?" I yelled back.

"Come on down. You can practice the new tea spell you learned yesterday while I fix lunch."

I huffed a laugh then answered, "Be right down, Gran."

I shut the book and shoved it between my mattress and the boxspring. I knew this was the right thing. There had to be more to magic, more to me than making tea. And I was ready to learn it all.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease | Kris Norris | Siobhan Muir

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It's time for another Promptly Penned post. I'm back with Justin and Harris for this one - they are in my head, folks, and I can't shake them loose. Never mind I won't be able to work on their actual book for a while. My brain doesn't like me very much, glomming on to every idea/story but the one I need to be actually working on. I'm guessing (hoping?) that I'm not the only one this happens to... But anyhoo, here are the other pieces of flash fiction I've written in this lovely world and I've marked the ones that are specific to Justin and/or Harris with an **, so if you want to have a look-see, feel free.

Part 1 - "The First Step"
Part 2 **
Part 3 - "Never Gone" **
Part 4 - "Unfinished" **

As always, the prompt itself is in bold.


Justin rubbed the back of his neck and gave into the urge to look around the bullpen—at the team. His old team. Well, not quite. Liam wasn’t leading the team anymore, and there was Harris—sitting at Justin’s old desk. And the younger man had hardly looked at Justin since he’d arrived over an hour ago. And any glances sent his way…weren’t exactly friendly or welcoming.

He wondered if Harris worried about his job—that with Justin’s appearance, he’d be ousted so Justin could slip back into his old role. As soon as that thought entered his mind, he shoved it aside. No, he figured Harris was secure in his place on the team. It’d been nearly four years, and from what Justin had observed, Harris got along with everyone, and he had no reason to have that particular worry.

And fuck it, that meant his attitude probably had to do with that night. Shit. Which also meant Justin would have to talk to him, clear the air, so there wouldn’t be any problems working this case together.

“All right, everyone, it’s late,” Adam announced. “Head out, get some rest, and back here at oh-six-thirty to go over what we have.”

The sighs of relief from his former teammates made Justin smile. He knew they’d been pouring over this case and were likely exhausted. He may have been away for a while, but he sure as hell remembered the long hours they put in here.

“I know we have to be back early,” Scott said, standing and stretching his arms over head, groaning at the popping joints, “but we should go out for a drink. Just one,” he added when Adam arched a brow.

Sarah jumped in, then, and Justin suspected they’d come up with this plan as soon as they’d heard he was coming. “Come on, gangs all back together… Well, it will be when you call Liam to meet us at Tate’s? An hour or so, one drink, a bit of catching up before we’re back, neck deep in this and don’t have a moment to spare?”

Adam looked between the two for a long moment then nodded. “An hour. I’ll call Liam.”

He walked away, pulling his cell from his pocket, and Scott and Sarah grinned at Justin.

“Come on, man. We’ll go grab a table.” Scott grabbed his weapon and creds from his desk then put on his coat. He frowned when his gaze landed on Harris, who was still pouring over the file in front of him. “Hey, kid, let’s go. Drinks are on me tonight.”

“Gonna pass. I really want to get through this before I head out.” He looked up, brown eyes settling on Justin a moment before darting away. He smiled at the others. “You guys have fun, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Are you sure? You hardly ever come out with us.” Sarah said with an exaggerated pout. “Beginning to think you don’t like us, Harris.

Harris rolled his eyes but didn’t respond. He just turned back to the file, effectively shutting everyone else out.

Justin drew in a deep breath, feeling the guilt weighing heavily. He’d better take care of this now.

“Go on ahead,” he told Scott and Sarah. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Both of them frowned, but they didn’t argue. As soon as they were out of earshot, Justin stood and, circling the desk he’d commandeered, walked over to stand in front of Harris’.

“Hey,” he said softly. “You should come. You’re a part of the team. I’m just here to consult at Adam’s request. And...it’d be nice to catch up.” He sighed when he didn’t get any kind of reaction from the other man. “Look, you don’t need to let my mistake that night fuck things up and—”

“Wow.” Harris straightened, leaning back slightly in his chair. After a moment, he shook his head. “Okay, then. Can we just pretend, for one fucking second, that you’re not a complete douchebag.”

Justin stumbled back, feeling almost as if he’d been struck physically. “Douchebag?”

“I’m not going out for a drink. I don’t want to, and it has nothing to do with my place on the team. As it is now. But I’m not a part of ‘the gang’,” he sneered. “And I’m not going to waste my time pretending that I am.”

He pushed his chair back and stood. With jerky movements, he secured his gun and pocketed his creds before locking his desk. Then, he grabbed the files from his desk and shoved them in his messenger bag. Justin just stared, unable to grasp a solid thought, let alone respond with words.

Harris started to walk away, shouldering past Justin, but then, he stopped abruptly and spun around. He closed the distance between them, standing so close Justin could feel Harris’ breath gusting over his face.

“’It’d be nice to catch up.’ Are you fucking kidding me? What is there to catch up on, Justin? We worked one case together, and one that hardly brings on the warm fuzzies. And that night…” He laughed, a flat, hollow sound that just fucking hurt. “Clearly not enough to even warrant a catching up since you made no fucking effort to so much as talk to me afterwards. And I understood. At first. How could I not. But then, so much time passed, and I got to hear from everyone else that you’d been in touch with them. But I wasn’t worth even that. Made my place very, very clear. So, again, I’ll pass on the drink and happy reunion.”

He pivoted and walked away again, throwing over his shoulders. “And just a bit of advice, no one wants to be called a fucking mistake, you douchebag.”


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease | Kris Norris

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For today's Promptly Penned, I once again ventured into the world of my serial.

For those interested, here are links for the other flash fiction peices that are kinda connected/set in that world:

The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
Lying to Myself
The Lies We Tell
The Choice Lies Before You 
"Little Heaven" (Song Fic) 
Uncertainty
Promptly Penned #9

And the link to the chapters of the serial: Your Lies

This story isn't about the hero or heroine of the serial but a follow up to a couple of flash fiction pieces I did from this world.

Awakening (from Male #1's POV)
"Iowa" (from Male #2's POV)

For this piece, I'm back in Male #1's POV. So here we go... (Actual prompt is in bold)


I watched Maddock walk out of the apartment we shared and silently counted in my head.

1...

2...

3...

4...

"I can't believe he's going out with that Magical Sympathizer. Again." Mark practically spat the words as he flopped onto the sofa next to Kevin, who nodded.

Fuck, he hadn't even made it five seconds. God, I hated him. Hated being here, pretending to be one of them. Hated that I had to sit here with not only a straight face but an agreeable one as they spewed anti-magic bullshit. All the while my magic skittered beneath my skin, aching to lash out, to take them out before they could do more harm to those like me.

"Chill out," Nick said, strolling in from the kitchen. "He'll lose interest soon enough."

And him... My magic wanted to do so much more to Nick Collins. It wanted to squeeze the life out of him, slowly. Slowly enough he suffered. Just as Molly had suffered, just as the life had been squeezed out of her...by him.

I inhaled deeply and shoved my magic down. Because now was not the time. It would come, soon enough, but I hadn't spent the last years carving out my place in this group to let it all go to waste by acting impulsively. Luckily, Nick wasn't here often, so it wasn't always so difficult to control myself and the power that lived within me. Though, fuck, even without him around, it was getting harder and harder to live like this.

"But he's not focusing," Mark argued. "He's starting to question what we're doing. She's filling his head with ideas that go against everything we've been working toward.  Fucking Magic Users and their Sympathizers. Shouldn't even be allowed here."

"Or anywhere," Kevin added vehemently. "Abominations. All of them."

I fought not to sneer at him - or throw him across the room with a flick of my wrist. They were the abominations. The monsters. And they needed to be stopped.

"She's just a piece of ass, playing hard to get. And once she gives it up, he'll move on." Nick sat in the chair across from me. "He'll do what he needs to do. Besides, going home for the long weekend will help set him straight."

"True," Mark said with a laugh. "Daddy and Mama Roberts sure as hell aren't going to put up with their baby boy crossing lines."

I forced myself to chuckle along with them as my stomach clenched painfully and my head throbbed. Again. More and more, I fought against horrible headaches. The result of suppressing my magic and from little to no rest. - I might be able to push my magic down and hide what I was, but I couldn't stop the visions from coming while I slept. In fact, they seemed to come more frequently the longer I muzzled my magic and kept it deep inside. But there was nothing for that. It was necessary. For the greater good. And it was a small price to pay to do what was right. That's all I ever really wanted. That and making my sister's killer pay. I had to accomplish the first before I could see to the second.

The short break from classes would help. The people who thought they were my friends believed I was going home while I'd told my parents I was staying near campus, to swamped with schoolwork to come before the longer break over the holidays. In reality, I was going somewhere I could be myself. Somewhere I didn't have to hide. Somewhere I could loosen the hold on my power and let it free.

The pain in my head ratcheted up a notch at the mere thought of my parents. I loved and hated them in equal measure. They were good parents, for the most part, always good to me and my siblings. But I loathed their weakness. When I looked at them all I saw was a foolish pair who blindly accepted and followed the anti-magic movement. And all the while, unbeknownst to them, two of their children had the very thing they, with their passivity, helped oppress and persecute. To be honest, the reason I still maintained contact with them was because of my little brother. He showed no signs of having magic, but my powers hadn't awakened until I was in high school - the night Molly was murdered. So I would watch Owen and keep him safe.

And there was the fact it solidified my cover as someone who was strongly anti-magic  to remain the good son, so I'd keep doing that as long as I needed to. No matter how hard it was.

I focused on the conversation around me, and quickly tuned the hateful words and ranting out again. I bit back a sigh and shifted into more comfortable position. Only three more days of this. Three more days of pretending, of hiding, of doing what needed to be done. Then...then...I could be me. Even if it was only for a short time. It would be enough. I would make it be enough because it couldn't be otherwise. The work I had to do was far too important.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

 

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All right, my lovelies, today is a promptly penned post. We all get the same prompt and get to write something from it. This one is hella short. It has been a crazy time here--I'm trying to finish a book, life is kinda exploding chaotic around me, and right now, all I can think about is going to bed.

So, some people will be happy to see there is no sweeping sad, angsty story today. 😉 Nope, it's short, sweet and...one might say, fluffy. So enjoy. 🙂 (The actual prompt is in bold)


Philip lifted his head as the man beside him groaned and stretched. He bit his lip as he took in the long lines of Kev’s nude body. When the bright green eyes lost their sleepiness and focused on Philip, he smiled.

“We were supposed to go a real date, this time,” Kev said hoarsely, and Philip’s smile grew into a grin at the sound. Who would have thought the straight-laced Kev was a screamer? Well…his neighbors sure as hell knew now.

“Mm hmmm,” Philip replied absently, reaching out and dragging his palm down Kev’s chest.

“You promised.” Kev gave an exaggerated pout. “I really wanted to see that movie.”

“It’s not my fault. I couldn’t find the show times.” Philip inched his hand lower, loving the way Kev’s breath caught and his eyes darkened. “That's what happens when you don't have reliable Wi-Fi, sweetheart.”

“Like you don’t have enough data.” Kev scooted closer.

“True…” Philip rolled onto his side and pulled him closer. “Should I check now? I’m sure there’s a late showing.”

Sliding his fingers through Philip’s hair, Kev chuckled. “Nah, realized I don’t want to see it that much, after all.”

Thank fuck, Philip thought as their mouths collided.


Bronwyn Green| Deelylah Mullin

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This month, I'm going to revisit some of my favorite boys - Michael and Aric - sort of. This is a snippet seen through the eyes of Michael's sister, Trina.

If you want to see the other pieces with the boys, here you go:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The prompt will be bolded in the story itself. 🙂


"I'm coming, for fuck's sake!" Trina called out, supremely pissed at whoever was banging on her door, interrupting her Criminal Minds marathon. The rest of her words - all cuss words, sure, but that wasn't important - died on her tongue when she yanked the door open and found her brother, Michael, standing on her doorstep in the pouring rain. With a huge shit-eating grin splitting his face.

"Hey, sister," he said, swaying side to side.

She grabbed his arm and yanked him inside, shutting the door behind them. "What the fuck, Mikey?"

He stumbled slightly and laughed brightly. "Oh shit, you were doing Criminal Minds tonight, weren't you? Sorry to interrupt your gawping at Derek Morgan times." Another laugh burst from his lips, and he covered his mouth, eyes wide as he stared at her.

"You're drunk...and you've got glitter..." She gave a vague gesture in his direction, because honestly, the sparkly shit was everywhere, and she'd probably be finding it on her carpet for years to come, now.

"I am, but not too drunk. Just...happy." His words were muffled against his palm as he nodded. He lowered his hand and continued, "It was a good fucking night. Until he got called back into work. And your place is closer to his so I had him drop me here. Figured you loved me enough to let me take your spare room for the night." He batted his lashes playfully. "Pretty please?"

She sighed and stopped herself from asking who "he" was. Michael never shared about the guys he hooked up with. Part of her was grateful - because who wanted to hear about who their little brother banged? - but another part was sad he didn't even try to find someone to be serious about. Then again, it was a Saturday night, and she was in her jammies, watching TV by herself. Who was she to judge on that point?

"Go on." She shooed him toward the spare bedroom. "Shower that shit off yourself, and I'll grab you some dry clothes. Then, it's back to Criminal Minds and Derek Too-Hot-For-His-Own-Good Morgan. You can join or not..."

"I'll join, but you know I'm more of a Spencer Reid man. Rowr."

She snorted as she strode into the laundry room to grab some sweats and a t-shirt from the stash of clothes Michael kept at her place.  When she went to the bedroom, Michael was standing in the middle of the room, bare from the waist up, still swaying slightly, Her eyes widened when she took in the marks on his neck and shoulders and the ones - definitely from rough fingers there - peeking from beneath where his jeans hung low on his hips.

"Fuuuuck, Mikey."  She whistled low and tossed the clothes onto the bed. "Did you send him to work looking like you? Sparkly and marked up?"

He didn't even startle, just looked at her, strangely somber, as his cheeks pinkened. When he didn't say anything, she prodded. Just a little.

"You normally don't go for the club scene." She walked up to him and thumbed some of the glitter from his cheek. "I'm assuming that's where your night started..."

"I normally don't," he agreed. "Neither does Aric, but he needed to let off some steam, and so did I." He sighed and lifted his shoulder in a weak half-shrug. "Dad called."

Fuck. No need to explain, she thought. Their dad had been mostly absent during their childhood, but when he bothered to show up, emotionally and verbally abusive, homophobic asshole didn't begin to cover it.

So she did what she had to do, to spare her brother more pain he didn't need. She sidestepped that particular landmine and grasped onto the other nugget of information he'd given.

"Aric? Are you actually seeing someone? Regularly enough to actually learn his name?"

He narrowed his eyes. "I always learn their names, I'll have you know."

"Mm hmmm." She crossed her arms. "But you never share them with me. So..."

His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "Been seeing him for about a month. He's...he's..." He looked at her, expression almost panicked. "I love him, Trina. Fuck me, but I love him. Enough to go to a damned club, get all sweaty and glitter-bombed just to see him freaking smile."

"Wow." She took a deep breath then grinned. "Okay, you go shower the stink and sparkle off. I'm going to pull out the wine, and you're going to tell me all about this Aric."

"I mean it, Trina. He's...he's it for me." He scrubbed his hands over his face then met her gaze. "That's the real reason I had him drop me off here. I needed you to know. You two are the most important people in my life."

Chest aching, she closed the distance between them, braved the glitter and kissed his cheeks. Then, grasping his shoulders, she turned him and gave him a push towards the bathroom. "Can't wait to hear about him, so hurry."

Once she heard the shower turn on, Trina went into the kitchen. She couldn't help but laugh as she opened a bottle of white. How does she find out her brother has found someone to love and be with? He showed up at her door, soaking wet, bruised and covered in glitter. So fucking typical...


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease
Kellie St. James | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

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Promptly Penned

This month's Promptly Penned is connected a bit to Your Lies - my serial. It centers around Kyle - Delia's best friend from back home, a fellow magic user. This takes place before the events in the serial itself, and it's a short one. 🙂


In school, tests started with a class bell  and ended with a "pencils down". Outside of school, things weren't so well defined. Outside of school, outside of...childhood, the things we were tested with all out sucked. There wasn't anyone else in control, telling you when to start, when to stop. It was all on you. Frightening thought...

I dropped my head forward and pressed fingertips to my temples, blocking out the chaos. I wasn't sure what to do. Everyone - my mom, Delia - thought I was visiting the university they thought I was interested in. I didn't feel guilty about the lies, really. I had no problem letting people assume things or bending the the truth or out and out lying it meant they wouldn't worry. When the lies protected them from a truth that could actually kill them.

And this truth...could definitely do that.

Just knowing about the place I now sat could cut one's life short if the wrong people found out. But I'd been destined to know, to be here, to make a difference. I snorted. Destined. I sure as hell didn't believe I was some sort of hero or anything like that, but I did believe ordinary men and women could make a difference, could fight against what was happening... I had to. It was the only thing that kept me moving forward for since that night.

When my dad and Delia's dad had let me go with them to investigate the disappearance of other magic users. When we'd been attacked. When I had run away as our dads had been dragged away. Sure, they'd told me to; that was the deal, after all. Anything happens, you run and you do not look back. Do you understand me? I promised without a second thought because I wanted to be allowed to go, to help.  I'd known, even then, that I wanted to be a part of what they were - fighting against the persecution and violence we, as those with magic, faced every day.

Knowing I'd have a chance to continue their work had always been the focus for me. I didn't let my mom see that, of course. How could I after we lost my dad? I would do what I had to - that was why I was here, ready to sign my name on the proverbial dotted line - but I would do just about anything to keep my mom ignorant of it all.

"Kyle?"

I lifted my head and looked at Patrick Bennet - a old friend of my dad's and the man who had first recruited him. The man I'd sought out as soon as I'd been able. And the man who'd just laid out all the risks, the possible collateral damage - innocent people killed in the crossfire; I could read between the lines - as a result of my actions, if I chose to join him and the others.

I forced my mind back to my dad. What he and Delia's dad had fought for. Any hesitation had been momentary and I wasn't going to give in to it or let doubts get in my way. Decision made, I felt lighter, and my magic thrummed beneath my skin, and I had a the fanciful thought that it was approval. From the power that lived in me. Maybe even from my dad.

"Not going to lie to you, kid," Peter said. "This is war. But it's not a war you need to be on the front lines of."

Pushing to my feet, I lifted my chin and met his gaze.

"You're wrong, sir. That's exactly where I need to be. I'm in."


Bronwyn Green| Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

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Promptly PennedFor this week's prompt (in bold within the story), I revisited some characters...well, kind of. This bit (which turned out waaaaay loner than I anticipated) takes place well before the flash fiction I wrote with these characters.  I also broke the prompt up....because well, I did.

Also, this is a male/male pairing and some graphic sexual things happen--you have been warned.


This would normally be where the story ended, Harris Porter thought. If this were a story, the world has been saved (okay, maybe not the world but a lot of people, damn it), the prince has found his bride (so there’s no prince or bride to be seen, but that’s beside the point), and there's nothing left to do (except the fucking reams of paperwork because there was always more of that, no matter the outcome). Only this wasn’t a story. It was the real world, and the loose ends that were left belong to people that weren’t the prince, or the dragon, or the little goose girl.

Nope, tying up the loose ends fell to Harris and the team he’d been working with for the last month and a half to track a serial killer who had been escalating and becoming more and more bold with each kill. Harris had been assigned to the team temporarily to help with the case, though there was talk that perhaps the assignment would be made permanent. Finding his footing had been a challenge—this case being complicated in so many ways—and he had no idea what Liam, the team lead, thought of him. And in the end, it was Liam’s call whether Harris was now a part of the team or would be sent to another.

It had been too much to hope that the decision would come now. The case was essentially closed, yes, but they still needed confirmation that the body found was actually their killer. So it was a waiting game—to actually close the case and for Harris to learn his fate.

Harris looked at each of the team members—all of them looked as tired as he felt. Going on little to no sleep every night had definitely caught up with them. He was a bit envious of Sarah, the lone woman on the team, as she dozed curled up on the chair behind her desk. And he had no clue how Scott could be sleeping, stretched out on the hard floor as he was, but from the sounds of the quiet snuffling snores, he was managing just fine.

Liam stood with his second, Adam, and as they talked in low voices, they kept looking toward the final member of the team, Justin, sadness and concern clear in their dark expressions. Harris turned his attention to the man in question. This case had sucked on so many levels, for no one more than Justin Campbell. He’d worked the case hard, like they all had, but a couple weeks into the investigation, something had tipped him off—Harris never learned what exactly it had been—that led the team to identify their killer.

One Jonah Campbell. Justin’s brother.

Officially, Justin stepped back, no longer working the case, for obvious reasons. Unofficially, however…he was still very much a part of the investigation, and without his insights, they wouldn’t have gotten very far.

Justin stood, leaning against one of the tall file cabinets, arms crossed over his chest, hazel eyes unfocussed as he stared straight ahead. His dark hair curled messily around his pale face, and Harris realized if he had a hard time sleeping each night after witnessing the horrors they did, it had to be a hundred times worse for Justin, knowing his brother had done those things again and again.

“Go home, people,” Liam ordered, his voice hoarse. “Everyone back here at oh-seven-hundred.”

Justin straightened and strode toward the exit without saying a word. Adam moved to Sarah and then Scott, waking them and repeating the boss’ orders. Harris squared his shoulders and tried to look somewhat alert and awake as Liam approached.

“Good work, Porter,” he said gruffly.

“Thank you, sir.”

Liam shook his head—having told Harris at least a hundred times he didn’t have to call him “sir”—then clapped the younger agent on the back. “Oh-seven-hundred. Don’t be late.”

Harris nodded, biting back the question he so badly wanted to ask—was he just reporting in to help tie up those loose ends or was this permanent? Shouldering his backpack, he returned the smiles and waves from Adam and Sarah then took his leave. He glanced at his watch as he got on the elevator. If he hauled ass, he could catch the last bus and avoid having to pay for a cab. He cursed the bad luck of having his car crap out on him in the middle of a hot case when he had no time to find a new one.  After exiting the building, he jogged to the stop. He’d barely been there a minute, when a car pulled up to the curb. The driver’s side window lowered to reveal Justin.

“Get in,” he said curtly, hardly looking at Harris.

“There’s no need… Bus’ll be here in—”

“For fuck’s sake, just get in the fucking car!”

Harris stared, frozen, until Justin turned his head to meet his gaze. The sight of his red-rimmed eyes pushed Harris into action. He rounded the front of the car, opened the passenger door and slid in. He barely had time to settle his bag between his feet and reach for the seatbelt when he was thrown back as Justin hit the gas.

After managing to buckle himself in, he waited a few minutes in what had to be the most tense, awkward silence of his life, wondering what was going through the other man’s mind. As Justin turned onto his street, Harris twisted to face him.

“Thanks for the ride,” he said softly, at a complete loss.

What the hell did you say to a man who just lost his brother, who just happened to be a complete psychopath who’d tortured and killed a dozen men…that they knew of? This situation wasn’t exactly something they prepared you for at Quantico.

Justin didn’t say anything as he parked in front of Harris’ building. He dropped his hands on his thighs, fingers clenching and unclenching, and stared out the windshield, lips pressed together in a thin line.

Harris unbuckled and, swallowing the lump in his throat, decided to follow his gut. The last thing Justin needed was to be alone right now. Harris leaned over, switched the car off and removed the key. Justin startled slightly but remained quiet.

“Come on,” Harris encouraged. “I’ve got beer, if you want, and an extra bed you can crash in. And an ear if you decide you need to talk about it.”

Justin snorted and shook his head even as he reached for the door handle. Harris grabbed his bag and got out, pocketing the keys then pulling his own from the other pocket. He glanced back once to make sure Justin was following him then led the way through the lobby, up the stairs to the second floor, to his door. He unlocked it and gestured for Justin to go on in.

He closed the door behind them, and suddenly, the world was spinning, the thump of his bag hitting the floor barely registering as his back slammed against the wall.

“Don’t want or need a beer, or an extra bed, or a fucking ear,” Justin rasped, breath fanning over Harris’ face, his hands tight on Harris’ waist.

Harris gulped then wet his lips, cock twitching at the nearness of the other man and at the way his gaze zeroed in on Harris’ mouth.

“What do you want…need?” he asked shakily, trying so hard to stay still, to not rock his hips forward.

Apparently, he didn’t need to hold back—Justin pressed in, grinding his solid length against Harris’ thigh. He dropped his head, buried his face in Harris’ neck, inhaling deeply. Harris thought he might fucking come on the spot when he felt the wet glide of Justin’s tongue over his Adam’s apple. God, this was a bad idea…

“I’ve seen you watching me.” Justin’s words were muffled but understandable. “Didn’t think I’d notice you eye-fucking me from across the bullpen?”

“Fuck,” Harris breathed, eyes nearly rolling back at the sweet friction of his dick against Justin’s hip. “S-s-orry. Didn’t—” Justin shifted slightly, cupping Harris’ ass, so their cocks slotted together in a mind-blowing perfect way. “Oh, fuck.”

Justin chuckled darkly, then nipped at the sensitive skin below Harris’ ear before sucking hard. Harris whimpered and grabbed hold of Justin’s rolling hips.

Justin pushed his hand between their bodies, fingers pulling at buttons and zippers, and another whimper escaped at the loss of contact. But any disappointment disappeared when their pants were shoved down just enough and Justin grasped their now bare cocks together and began stroking. Hell, every logical thought faded at that moment. All Harris could do was feel—Justin’s cock against his, the rough circle of Justin’s fingers jerking them off, the bursts of hot, damp breath at his neck, the rumble of Justin’s moans.

All too soon, his balls drew up and heat coiled deep in his belly. He tried to hold on, wanting this to just last and last, but then, Justin dragged his thumb over Harris’ slit, his nail catching just a bit…just enough to shove him over. His muscles tightened, and he came hard, spilling over Justin’s hand and dick.

“Fuck, yeah,” Justin grunted and followed, his seed mixing with Harris’, hot and slick.

Harris let his head fall back, shivering as Justin nuzzled and left wet open-mouthed kisses on his sweat-damp throat.

“Shower?” Justin murmured as he pulled back slowly—dare he say, reluctantly?—and met Harris’ gaze.

“Justin, what— What did—”

He cupped Harris’ cheek, cutting off Harris’ words with a thumb against his lips. “Don’t want to talk. Don’t want to fucking think tonight.”

“But—”

“Please, Harris.”

Chest aching, he nodded. Justin’s lips quirked slightly, then he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to Harris’. A rather chaste kiss after what they’d just done, but so damned sweet it made his eyes sting. When Justin straightened, Harris grabbed him around the wrist and pulled him to the bathroom.

They stripped, showered, and dried off efficiently, barely touching each other. When they climbed under the covers of Harris’ bed, he was pleasantly surprised when Justin scooted close, tangling their legs together as he, again, pressed his face into Harris’ neck. His sleepy sigh tickled, and with a soft smile, Harris wrapped his arms around the other man and closed his eyes.

He drifted a bit but was pulled back at the first splash of hot tears on his skin. Justin’s shoulders quaked, and his breathing hitched. Harris tightened one arm around Justin, sliding his other hand up and down his warm back. He shushed and murmured soothingly as the Justin cried, almost silently. Finally, he stilled, and when his body loosened and grew heavy, Harris let himself sink into much-needed sleep.

Waking the next morning was a gradual thing, and Harris groaned as his muscles protested. He rolled over and found himself alone in the bed, the sheets beside him rumpled but cool. He scrubbed his hands over his face and refused to let panic or uneasiness take hold. Justin would have needed to run back to his place before going into work—just because he wasn’t here didn’t mean anything.

Despite his best efforts, a sliver of doubt wiggled its way into Harris’ mind. What if Justin regretted last night? If he did, Harris could kiss his chances of remaining on Liam’s team goodbye. Dammit. Shaking his head, he sat up then, looking at the clock, jumped to his feet. Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck! Five to seven! There no way he was going to make it to work on time. Just freaking perfect. He fumbled for his phone and called a cab—the quicker option. After arranging pick up, he hurriedly got ready and rushed outside.

It was nearly eight when he tripped out of the elevator, and his face was red—from exertion and embarrassment—as he approached the team where they were gathered by their desks.

“You’re late,” Liam said flatly.

“Fu— I’m sorry. I overslept, and by the time the cab got there—” He clamped his mouth shut at Liam’s raised brow. “I’m terribly sorry, sir.”

“You have my number, do you not?” his boss—God, please let him be my boss—asked. “The rest of the team’s numbers?”

“Yes,” he said slowly, drawing the word out awkwardly.

“Then, you should have called or texted. Next time, I won’t be so forgiving.”

His stomach flipped. “Next time?”

Liam’s mouth curved. “Proved yourself time and again on this last case. You’re mine now. Get used to it.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Drop your bag by your desk, Porter. Call IT to get you set on the computer then get started on your case report.”

Harris’ stomach stopped flipping in excitement and dropped when his eyes followed Liam’s gesture.

“But that’s Jus—Agent Campbell’s desk,” he whispered.

Liam strode away without answering, but Adam stepped up beside Harris. “Justin’s gone. He’s no longer with the Bureau.”

“He quit?” Shit.

“Yeah, can’t say that I blame him. This case…his brother… It’s been a mind fuck for him. Though Boss is putting it down as extended leave for now. Waiting to see if Justin’ll be back once his head is clear.”

Harris nodded and walked stiffly to what was now his desk. He opened one of the drawers to store his creds and gun, eyes widening when he saw an folded sheet of paper with his name scrawled across it. Glancing around and finding everyone—his new teammates—busily typing away on their computers, he opened it. Legs shaking, he sat down and read the short note.

Harris—
Thanks for everything. Congrats on getting on Liam’s team. He’s not an easy man to impress, but you managed to do just that. Good luck.
Justin

Below Justin’s name there as a line of words that were scribbled out, and no matter how Harris angled the paper, he couldn’t figure out what Justin had written that he’d taken back. He pressed a hand to his sternum, trying to alleviate the hurt blossoming.

Not living a fairytale or a story, he reminded himself. Happy endings took effort in real life, and were rarely the fabled happily-ever-afters found in books.

“Porter!” Liam snapped as he returned to the grouping of desks. “Thought I told you to call IT? Don’t have all damned day.”

“On it, si—” He cleared his throat as he shoved the note back into the drawer and reached for his phone. It may not be a happily-ever-after, but he was on the team he’d dreamed of. For now, that was enough. It had to be. “On it, Boss.”


Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa

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Promptly Penned

For this week's prompt (In bold in the story), I revisited my boys--Michael and Aric. Well, kind of. It's a flashback to Michael's past. Here are the other pieces of their story so far.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Michael clenched his fists in his lap, staring as his sister stormed out of the restaurant. Not that he blamed her. Hell, he’d give pretty much anything to be right on her heels at that moment, rather than sitting here listening to his father’s homophobic slurs and insults. Actually, he was surprised Trina had made it for—he glanced at his watch—a whole twenty minutes. Of course, it was only when dear dad’s comments became personal and aimed with precision toward Michael that Trina had been unable to take it any longer.

Michael, on the other hand, had more experience with dealing with this bullshit. He’d been expecting it from the moment his father had called to set up this little family dinner. He almost hadn’t come, but fuck, there was still a part of him—however, miniscule it had become—that wanted things to be okay with his dad, with their family.

All he wanted right now? To be home, curled up in front of the fireplace with Aric, enjoying a movie and the hot and heavy making out sure to follow. He stared at his father, took in the annoyed, yet slightly amused, expression on his face.

“This is where you make up some stupid excuse to leave early and stop returning my calls.” He leaned back in his chair with a sigh. At least, you’re more polite than your sister.”

“More polite than you,” Michael muttered, reaching for his water.

“I was actually surprised you came. That that…man you’re…” his lips lifted in a slight sneer, “seeing allowed you to come. He always stopped you before.”

“Aric has nothing to do with my not wanting to see you.”

“Right,” his father drawled. “It’s quite clear he wears the pants, rules the roost. Ever since you took up with him, you’ve refused to see me.”

“Not true,” Michael said shortly. “I stopped accepting your invitations when you decided insulting me wasn’t enough and thought hitting me might make me come around to your way of thinking.”

“I was angry.” The older man waved a hand dismissively. “I’d had a few drinks, and I hardly touched you.”

Michael’s jaw ached, from clenching it so tightly and the memory of the jarring backhand his father had delivered months before. Before he could say anything, before he could stand up and say “fuck off”, his father continued.

“I didn’t ask you here to fight or go over old disagreements. I want you to come back and work for me. You made your point leaving.”

“Did I? And what are the conditions for my return? Leave Aric? Pretend to be the good little boy, the perfect son? So long as he's at least straight on the outside, yeah?"

“You’ve made it quite clear that you won’t leave him or stop doing…what you’re doing. I can accept that.” He took a deep breath. “I simply ask you maintain a better image—publicly. What you do on your own time… As long as you’re discreet.”

This time he managed to get the words out. “Fuck off.”

Before he could push to his feet, his father grabbed his arm, grip tight and bruising. “Listen to me, Michael.”

“No, you listen. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. What do you expect me to do? Date women publicly to please you? Where does it does stop? Am I supposed to get married, have a few kids, all the while keeping Aric on the discreetly on the side? Fuck that, and fuck you. I’m not ashamed of who I am, and I’m sure as hell not ashamed to be with Aric.”

“Why can’t you be sensible? Why would you throw everything away for a perverted, disgusting lifestyle? Is he worth giving up everything you could have, everything I could give you? All that because you like to bend over and take it? I raised you better than that.” His fingers dug into Michael’s biceps.

“Please.” Michael jerked his arm from his father’s grasp. “You hardly raised me at all. That was a job you hired out. And the answer is yes. He’s worth all of that. He’s worth everything. But you know what?” He stood, trying to quell the trembling of his limbs. “Even if I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t come back. Nothing is worth having to put up with you and hate-filled bullshit.”

“Michael, please,” he said quietly. “I don’t know how much time I have left. I’m not a young man. I don’t want…”

Watching the older man bite his lip, Michael almost sat back down, until he saw the calculated gleam in his father’s eyes. Damn it, he’d almost fallen for it—he knew better!

“What you want or don’t want doesn’t make a difference in my life anymore. Do you remember what you said to me when I came out?” His father frowned. “Come on. Think really hard.”

He shook his head and reached for Michael again. He stepped to the side, successfully avoiding the grab.

“You said you’d rather hear I was dying than that I was a fag. When I left the company, you said I was dead to you. Well, I’m returning the favor, Dad. It goes both ways now. You’re dead to me. I don’t want to see you again.”

“You don’t mean that. If I died—”

“I would be happy,” Michael said, nearly choking on the words. Hating himself for saying them—even more for meaning them. He shook himself, allowed every acidic, cruel damning word his father had ever spewed to fill his mind. “I would be free from your hate, and I could finally breathe easy. Don’t contact me again.”

He pivoted and strode from the restaurant and made it to his car—barely—before his legs gave out. Leaning against the cold vehicle, he squeezed his eyes shut struggled to draw in air. What had he done? What the hell kind of son was he?


Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris