DEMON ARMS

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CHAPTER 22

Dorian woke slowly to the sounds of snickering. Living in a dorm full of magic-charged patients warned him how dangerous a noise that was. Still, it was hard to pull himself awake. He was exhausted and his bed wonderfully warm.

He blinked up at the sunlight flooded ceiling he couldn’t quite place and focused on the person standing over him.

Fox peered down at him and grinned a wicked fanged smirk. “Hey there, sleeping beauty. Find yourself a nice pillow?”

It was way too early for riddles. Dorian turned over, determined to ignore him, only there was an elbow in his way. An elbow not connected to him. Wylie was stretched out underneath him. His chest moved in a slow, even rhythm as he slept. “Yeah… A damn nice pillow.”

Fox barked in laughter. He chuckled as he bent over. Dorian sighed. Crap, he was so never going to hear the end of this.

Once his laughter was under control, Fox pointed to the open door to his dorm room. “Thought you two might want to get a room, like, literally before all the guys get up. Unless you want to hear months of just how cute you two look cuddled up like kittens?”

With a faint blush, Dorian glared halfheartedly at the snickering shifter. “Thanks.” Fox broke into another laugh at Dorian’s grim tone. Damn, the happy little brat.

He pushed up from his very warm nest of Wylie, and tried to straighten his hair into some sort of order. If he was going to endure being laughed at, he was going to have perfect hair at the time, damn it.

Dorian got to his feet unsteadily and grabbed the couch to keep from falling. His body felt bruised all over as if he survived a car crash. It happened the last time he’d lost control of his magic; the current moved through him so intensely it fried a bit of his flesh as it flowed. He’d heal after a day or so but for the moment he could barely walk. His thighs and ass… Right.

That.

Dorian blushed scarlet and glared at the still sleeping Wylie. There was no way in hell he’d ever let him fuck him in his dragon form again. Some things were not meant to come in such large sizes no matter what nature provided.

“Everything okay?” Fox noticed the large streaks of dried blood on Wylie’s arms, and his nose picked up the scent of smoke and char. “One of you didn’t end up in the bonfire after we went to bed, right?”

“Let’s just say it was a rough night.” Dorian shook his head slowly. “Wylie can tell you if he wants. It’s kind of some heavy shit and I don’t think it’s my right to tell it.”

Fox yawned widely and stretched. His t-shirt rode up on his narrow frame. “Hey, just as long as you guys are okay. I was half expecting you to either kill each other, or totally fuck after the shit you said last night at the party.”

Dorian frowned grimly. Fuck. The bonfire felt like a week ago. Everything seemed so certain then. He tried to push Wylie away by showing how shifters didn’t belong in his family’s world. It made so much sense at the time. Now… Now he just felt unbelievably lost.

He turned his gaze back and Dorian couldn’t help but notice Fox didn’t seem to hate him as much as his words had warranted. “I’m sorry about that, Fox. It was a shit thing to say and wasn’t meant for anyone else to hear. You know I don’t think of shifters that way even if some people in my family do.”

“Hey, I know, but don’t think you haven’t fucked things up for yourself, man.” Fox shoved his hands into his pockets and rocked on the heels of his bare feet. “You’re going to have to get our resident werewolf the most awesome, never before heard CD ever if you want that kid to say two words to you again.”

Damn, Justin was so sensitive. He was probably more upset to think Dorian was arguing with Wylie than anything else. He had some bridges to unburn and magic wasn’t going to be able to help.

With a sigh, Dorian turned back to the couch. Wylie managed to have a furrow in his brow even in sleep. He didn’t remember how he ended up sleeping next to him, not that he was complaining. But it was getting close to breakfast and there was no way he was going to let himself get caught in such an embarrassing position.

Dorian leaned down and ran his fingers through Wylie’s short, white-blond locks. The blue hair dye was completely faded now. “Come on, Wylie. Your back is going to kill you if you sleep out here.”

He was out cold, likely regenerating from his eventful evening. Dorian cast a spell to imbue his body with greater strength, then leaned down and lifted Wylie from the couch.

Fox stared at him wide eyed. “When the hell did you get so strong!”

“It’s magic, dolt.” Dorian grinned wickedly. He stepped around Fox and nearly knocked him down with Wylie’s long legs. “Remember it the next time one of you loud asses decides to stay up all night howling at the moon.”

A month at the Academy and Wylie’s side of the room was still so sparse. Wylie already had such an impact on the guys around him, yet he looked ready to leave at any moment. It was sobering and Dorian carried him the rest of the way in silence. He spelled the blanket aside before placing Wylie on the bed.

Wylie went full dragon last night with his first successful transformation. The Academy fixed him like it fixed everyone Dorian had watched come in and then move on. Surely Wylie would be moving on like all the rest.

“Hey, if you want to stay and sleep, I won’t say shit,” Fox said from the doorway. His voice was free of laughter.

Dorian straightened and shook his head. He pulled the blanket up over Wylie’s sleeping form. He wanted to be alone. So much had changed in the matter of a night and he didn’t know where he fit anymore. Wylie found a way to help him fix his magic levels only to be well enough to leave for good.

It was all just so fucked-up.

Dorian was tired and he stumbled to his own bed. He patted Fox on the shoulder in passing. Vincent was still asleep. Dorian kept as quiet as possible as he kicked off his shoes and slipped under his blankets. His bed felt as good as it always did, but this time too large, too empty.

He didn’t want to think about losing Wylie. He had just found him; he didn’t want to lose him.

It was the day after Wylie fell asleep and Collin McPherson came down to talk to Dorian. They sat in the lounge while the others were in their classes. Wylie slept all of yesterday away and was still sleeping. Michael assured Dorian he was just in a healing sleep but it didn’t make it any less frustrating.

Dorian was both relieved Wylie was still sleeping so he could avoid talking about him leaving the Academy, and frustrated his magic had already surged back to full power and was threatening to overwhelm him. He could feel his magic bubbling strong in his core again. It was a wealth of power waiting for his guard to slip so it could escape and wreak havoc. It was just so hard to think properly about Wylie when his magic wanted to explode every time he had an emotion.

Dante wandered over to where Dorian was sitting on a large, cushy couch and climbed up next to him. Collin was welcoming enough but Dante was very withdrawn and quiet without Wylie. He kept hovering by Wylie’s bed while he slept. Fox managed to supply Dante markers, crayons, and a very elaborate coloring book full of huge-eyed unicorns he would not disclose the origins of no matter how many people tried to guess.

Collin was sitting across from them in the comfortable setting. His blue eyes looked particularly sharp. It was his game face, and the man’s wide shoulders were tense, with his jaw set. Dorian could only assume things weren’t going so well with the search for Dante’s family since the owner of the Academy insisted he be present for the meeting as well.

Collin looked at the small boy who was leaning lightly against Dorian’s shoulder, and confirmed his suspicions. “Michael is talking to your relatives now, Dante. He ported overseas to find them personally. I’m afraid it’s as bad as we suspected.”

“They sold him?” Dorian couldn’t keep the disbelief and anger out of his voice.

“Well, nothing is fully confirmed just yet, but a large amount of money showed up into one of the Salvadors’ bank accounts a half hour after Dante was taken. We don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

Dorian was appalled. He’d hoped against hope it was just a misunderstanding, that Dante confused things when being stolen away. But no, his relatives actually sold him.

He wrapped his arm around Dante’s shoulder. Dante rubbed his forehead into Dorian’s side and refused to speak. “He doesn’t have to go back there, right? They’re clearly unfit to keep him.”

Collin nodded in agreement but his expression was sober. “We’re working on it. These sorts of matters are very tricky. For one, we can’t find any record of Dante’s birth. We’re looking for records of his parents, but those are missing as well. Usually, there’s something to trace to help us determine just what he might be.”

“He’s a sorcerer,” Dorian said automatically. He looked down at Dante’s bowed head. “Right?”

Collin’s expression said otherwise. “Dante is something more than a sorcerer. Dr. Rob can’t pinpoint it, but he isn’t fully human. That his eyes turn black when he was using his magic suggests, well…” He spread his hands out wide. “You know why your eyes turn black when you lose control, Dorian. It’s a very species-specific trait.”

Dorian inhaled sharply and didn’t answer. He instead pulled Dante tighter against his side. He might be some sort of demon hybrid. And if he was, there was no way anyone could be allowed to know. Demons were slaves to sorcerers with no rights. They didn’t even exist in most people’s eyes, including the law’s. No, there was no way Dante was leaving the Academy when there was a sorcerer out there who expected to pick him up at the wharf.

“Will the Academy take him in?” Dorian asked quietly. For the first time he had to wonder. Shifters and sorcerers were dangerous enough, but a demon?

“He’s young. Possibly too young to consider the dangers around him and realize he’s hurting others.” Collin sat back with a troubled expression still on his face. “He could be uncontrollable.”

Dorian stiffened at the suggestion and looked down at Dante again. If Dante was listening to a word, he didn’t reveal it. He kept his head buried into Dorian’s shirt. “If the Academy can’t take him, I’ll speak with my parents. I come from a long line of sorcerers with demonic blood and I can trust them to do right by him. They might even know of a way to help contain his outbursts.”

Collin smiled gruffly. Dante’s small fingers coiled around Dorian’s wrist. “Yes, well, Dante might not give us a choice as to where he wants to be. I was told he’s very attached to Wylie and clearly he’s taken to you as well. I expect we’ll be housing him for the next five years as long as we can ensure his previous guardians don’t interfere.”

Dorian met his gaze in confusion. “Five years? Why five?”

“Because that’s how long Wylie will be in our care. I suspect his shadow is going to wish to be wherever Wylie is.”

Dorian must have misheard. “Hold on, just… Wylie is going to be at the Academy for five years? But he already fixed his transformation problems. Why would he stay an entire five more years if he…?” No, it didn’t make sense and he was confused as hell.

“The conditions of Wylie’s stay here are a bit unique, but let’s just say it has to do with how I met him.”

“You mean when you were shot,” Dorian blurted tactlessly. “Is that why? Did you, like, adopt him or some shit?”

His eyes widened and Collin coughed. “No, nothing like that. Wylie’s far too old, I’m sure, to want something like that.” He swiped at his brow and added gruffly, “Wylie is welcome here for as long as he chooses. But for now, he is court ordered to stay for at least five years.”

Five whole years? It felt like the world flipped all over again just in the matter of one sentence. Dorian must have been squeezing too tight because Dante squirmed out of his hold. He landed on the floor and wandered towards Wylie’s closed door.

“Is this bad news?” Collin’s eyes sparkled with hidden mirth when Dorian continued to stare at him with a befuddled expression. “Would you prefer I ship him out? Maybe some sort of military school—”

“No! Not funny, you old bastard.” Still, Dorian couldn’t stop his smile. Hell, he might have to get a collar to handle this news.

Five years with Wylie. Five years to figure out their shit and see how it would work between them. Five years without having to worry about holding Wylie back from going off and doing his own thing while he was stuck at the Academy. Not that Wylie couldn’t just port to a job or something… Hell, if they got things right, Dorian might be able to actually leave the Academy for good one day. Wylie could siphon his excess power so he wasn’t dangerous, and he’d be able to fucking live an actual life.

He realized too late just what the hell he was doing. He was sitting and planning their life together like some crazy, lovesick moron. Dorian immediately stood. He hadn’t even talked to Wylie yet. Fuck, he’d have to tell his parents. Oh, god, what the hell was he thinking?

And seriously why the fuck hadn’t Wylie told him? Idiot!

Collin watched with a small smile as Dorian got up and began to pace around the lounge while he muttered under his breath. He picked up the bottle of water he left at his feet and took a long drink. Dorian made two more rounds until he came back to stand in front of him.

“Definitely five? He’s not, like, going to get to leave early cuz of good behavior or community service or anything?”

“Definitely five,” Collin replied, as straight-faced as possible.

“Yes!” Whirling, Dorian looked around the room until he found Dante. He was staring at Wylie’s closed door while he fiddled with the null-collar around his throat. Dorian crossed the distance and opened the door. He kept it spelled shut just in case a particular lion happened to try and sneak in and maul the sleeping Wylie while he was in class.

Dante stepped into the dim room. The shades were pulled down to keep the sun out while Wylie slept. He immediately walked up to the bed, crawled up, and snuggled up beside Wylie. It was adorable as fuck but Dorian couldn’t help the small stab of jealousy with Dante being in the exact spot he wished he could be. Little brat.

He was smiling again, he realized and sighed in exasperation. Idiot. He was being a total idiot.

Fuck, five years. Five whole years. Awesome.

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